What a week! Unfortunately no points to award but plenty to read. Just a quick reminder to the few of you who have not joined the Telegram group, as of next year we will be exclusively swapping from email to Telegram. It’s much more customisable, so if you don’t want to hear your inbox being pinged all the time, you can turn it off etc. Link in this weeks email.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Denise Bryer, 93, British voice actress (Terrahawks, Return to Oz, Labyrinth). Ex-wife of Nicholas Parsons.
- Leslie Bricusse, 90, British composer (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory), lyricist (“Goldfinger“, “You Only Live Twice“) and playwright.
- Colin Powell, 84, American general and politician, secretary of state (2001–2005) and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), complications from COVID-19.
- Jack Angel, 90, American voice actor (Voltron, The Transformers, A.I. Artificial Intelligence).
- Halyna Hutchins, 42, Ukrainian-born American cinematographer (Archenemy, Darlin’, Rust), accidental shooting.
- Brian Laundrie, 23, American person of interest in the killing of Gabby Petito.
- Peter Scolari, 66, American actor (Newhart, Bosom Buddies, Girls), leukaemia.
In Other News
The big news of the week is undoubtedly the killing of Helyna Hutchins on the filmset of Rust by an unwitting Alec Baldwin. Baldwin was handed what was described as a safe “cold gun” on the set, but the prop gun contained live rounds when it was fired, according to details of the police investigation into the fatal shooting released on Friday. The shot hit cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in the chest, and director Joel Souza who was behind her, in the shoulder, according to a county sheriff’s affidavit filed in Santa Fe magistrates court. Hutchins died of her wounds and Souza was injured but has since been released from a local hospital. The assistant director who handed Baldwin the prop gun did not know it contained live rounds. Baldwin said on Friday he was in shock over the accidental shooting as reports emerged of walk-outs on the Rust set earlier in the week over unsafe conditions. The star of 30 Rock and The Hunt for Red October said he was “fully cooperating” with authorities to determine how the incident occurred on Thursday. Production on the movie was immediately shut down. The sheriff’s department said no charges had been filed and the investigation remained open. Baldwin voluntarily gave a statement about the shooting, the sheriff’s department said. The incident took place at the Bonanza Creek Ranch, south of Santa Fe, during a rehearsal and it was not clear whether it had been filmed. The prop gun was one of three on a cart outside a building. One of them was taken by the assistant director on the movie who went inside and handed it to Baldwin. As the assistant director handed the gun to the actor Alec Baldwin, he yelled ‘cold gun’, indicating the prop gun did not have any live rounds. Questions were raised about working conditions on the set of Rust, media outlets cited several members of the crew and others close to the production as saying six or seven camera operators had walked off the Rust set hours before the tragedy. Two media outlets also reported that there had been at least one previous misfire with the prop gun. Hutchins, 42, who was originally from Ukraine, was named one of American Cinematographer’s Rising Stars of 2019. The accident renewed debate about whether certain types of prop guns should be banned on TV and movie sets.
Former US President Bill Clinton has been discharged from a Californian hospital after spending five nights under care. Mr Clinton had been receiving treatment for a urinary tract infection that developed into sepsis. The 75-year-old gave a thumbs up to waiting news crews as he walked out of hospital with his wife, former presidential candidate Hillary. Mr Clinton will return home to New York to complete his recovery, doctors said. Dr Alpesh Amin, who oversaw the team of medics treating Mr Clinton, said in a statement: “His fever and white blood cell count are normalised and he will return home to New York to finish his course of antibiotics.” The 42nd president, who served from 1993 to 2001, shook hands with waiting medical staff as he left the facility with his wife of 46 years. According to US media, Mr Clinton – who was in California to attend a private event for his foundation – had felt fatigued on Tuesday and underwent tests before being admitted to the hospital. President Biden said on Friday night that he had spoken with Mr Clinton and told reporters that he was “not in any serious condition”. The infection is the latest health scare for Mr Clinton. In 2004, aged 58, he had a quadruple bypass surgery after doctors found signs of extensive heart disease and, ten years later, he had a clogged artery opened after complaining of chest pains. Not long after his second surgery, the ex-president – known for his love of fatty foods – went vegan. He told Politico in 2016, “I might not be around if I hadn’t become a vegan. It’s great.”
Likewise, The Queen spent Wednesday night in hospital for preliminary medical checks and is now back at Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace has said. The 95-year-old monarch returned from the private hospital in central London at lunchtime on Thursday and is “in good spirits”, the palace added. The Queen had cancelled a visit to Northern Ireland on Wednesday. She was given medical advice to rest for a few days after a busy schedule of public engagements. In a statement on Thursday night, Buckingham Palace said: “Following medical advice to rest for a few days, the Queen attended hospital on Wednesday afternoon for some preliminary investigations, returning to Windsor Castle at lunchtime today, and remains in good spirits.” The Queen travelled by car to the King Edward VII’s Hospital in Marylebone, about 19 miles (32km) from Windsor, where she was seen by specialists. Her admittance is understood not to be related to coronavirus. The overnight stay was said to be for practical reasons and the Queen was undertaking light duties back at Windsor on Thursday afternoon. It is the first time the Queen has stayed in hospital since 2013, when she suffered symptoms of gastroenteritis. The news on Wednesday that the Queen would have to cancel a trip to Northern Ireland was always going to cause concern. Despite looking very well and happy at the numerous events she has attended over the past week, it cannot be forgotten that she is 95 years old.
On This Day
- 1857 – Sheffield F.C., the world’s oldest association football club still in operation, is founded in England.
- 1861 – The first transcontinental telegraph line across the United States is completed.
- 1901 – Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
- 1926 – Harry Houdini‘s last performance takes place at the Garrick Theatre in Detroit.
- 1929 – “Black Thursday” on the New York Stock Exchange.
- 1946 – A camera on board the V-2 No. 13 rocket takes the first photograph of earth from outer space.
- 1975 – In Iceland, 90% of women take part in a national strike, refusing to work in protest of gender inequality.
- 2003 – Concorde makes its last commercial flight.
- 2008 – “Bloody Friday” saw many of the world’s stock exchanges experience the worst declines in their history, with drops of around 10% in most indices.
- 1537 – Jane Seymour, English queen and wife of Henry VIII of England (b. c.1508).
- 1944 – Louis Renault, French businessman, co-founded the Renault Company (b. 1877).
- 1991 – Gene Roddenberry, American screenwriter, & producer, created Star Trek (b. 1921).
- 1994 – Raul Julia, Puerto Rican-American actor and singer (b. 1940).
- 2005 – Rosa Parks, American civil rights activist (b. 1913).
- 2015 – Maureen O’Hara, Irish-American actress and singer (b. 1920).
The Death of Brandon Lee
On March 31st 1993, Brandon Lee was filming a scene in The Crow where his character is shot and killed by thugs. In the scene, Lee’s character walks into his apartment and discovers his fiancée being beaten and raped, and a thug played by actor Michael Massee fires a Smith & Wesson Model 629 .44 Magnum revolver at Lee’s character as he walks into the room.
In the film shoot preceding the fatal scene, the prop gun (which was a real revolver) was loaded with improperly-made dummy rounds, improvised from live cartridges that had the powder charges removed by the special effects crew, so in close-ups the revolver would show normal-looking ammunition. However, the crew neglected to remove the primers from the cartridges, and at some point before the fatal event, one of the rounds had been fired. Although there were no powder charges, the energy from the ignited primer was enough to separate the bullet from the casing and push it part-way into the gun barrel, where it got stuck – a dangerous condition known as a squib load. During the fatal scene, which called for the revolver to be fired at Lee from a distance of 2–15 ft, the dummy cartridges were replaced with blank rounds, which contained a powder charge and the primer, but no solid bullet, allowing the gun to be fired with sound and flash effects without the risk of an actual projectile. However, the gun was not properly checked and cleared before the blank was fired, and the dummy bullet previously lodged in the barrel was then propelled forward by the blank’s propellant and shot out the muzzle with almost the same force as if the round were live, striking Lee in the abdomen.
After Massee pulled the trigger and shot Lee, Lee fell backwards instead of forwards as he was supposed to. When the director said “cut”, Lee did not stand up and the crew thought he was either still acting or kidding around. Jeff Imada, who immediately checked Lee, noticed something wrong when he came close and noted Lee was unconscious and breathing heavily. Medic Clyde Baisey went over and shook Lee to see if he was dazed by hitting his head during the fall, but did not think Lee had been shot since there was no visible bleeding. Baisey took Lee’s pulse, which was regular, but within two to three minutes it slowed down dramatically, and stopped.
Lee was rushed to the New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina. Attempts to save him were unsuccessful and after six hours of emergency surgery, Lee was pronounced dead at 1:03 pm on March 31st 1993. He was 28 years old. The shooting was ruled an accident due to negligence.
Lee was buried next to his father at the Lake View Cemetery in Seattle, Washington. A private funeral attended by 50 took place in Seattle on April 3rd. The following day, 200 of Lee’s family and business associates attended a memorial service at actress Polly Bergen‘s house in Los Angeles. Among the attendees were Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, David Hasselhoff, Steven Seagal, David Carradine, and Melissa Etheridge.
In August of 1993, Lee’s mother, Linda Lee Cadwell, filed a lawsuit against the filmmakers alleging negligence in the death of her son. The suit was settled two months later under undisclosed terms.
In an interview just prior to his death, Lee quoted a passage from Paul Bowles‘ book The Sheltering Sky, which he had chosen for his wedding invitations; it is now inscribed on his tombstone: Because we don’t know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. And yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, an afternoon that is so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four, or five times more? Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless…
Last Week’s Birthdays
Kevin Kline (74), F. Murray Abraham (82), Ryan Reynolds (45), Emilia Clarke (35), Sam Raimi (62), ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic (62), Cat Deeley (45), Christopher Lloyd (83), Jeff Goldblum (69), Bob Odenkirk (59), Derek Jacobi (83), Catherine Deneuve (78), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (46), Andrew Scott (45), Kim Kardashian West (41), Everett McGill (76), Ken Watanabe (62), Viggo Mortensen (63), Danny Boyle (65), Snoop Dogg (50), Sandra Dickinson (73), Rebecca Ferguson (38), Jon Favreau (55), Michael Gambon (81), John Lithgow (76), Pam Dawber (70), Zac Efron (34), and Jean-Claude Van Damme (61).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Granville Adams, 58, American actor (Oz, Homicide: Life on the Street, Empire), cancer.
- Bob Herron, 97, American stuntman (Spartacus, Diamonds Are Forever, Rocky) and actor, complications from a fall.
- Ruthie Tompson, 111, American animator (Pinocchio, Fantasia, Dumbo).
- Emani 22, 22, American R&B singer, car accident.
- Sir David Amess, 69, British Conservative politician, MP (since 1983), stabbed.
- Masten Wanjala, 20, Kenyan suspected serial killer, beaten to death.
- Alan Hawkshaw, 84, British composer and pianist, (Grange Hill and Countdown), pneumonia.
In Other News
Bournemouth and Wales football star David Brooks has been diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma. The winger, who left international duty with Wales last week following medical examinations, is set to undergo treatment next week. The Cherries confirmed the news via an official club statement on Wednesday, adding that the 24-year-old had received an “initial positive prognosis”. In a statement of his own, the Wales international said: “This is a very difficult message for me to write. I have been diagnosed with Stage II Hodgkin Lymphoma and will begin a course of treatment next week. Although this has come as a shock to myself and my family, the prognosis is a positive one and I am confident that I will make a full recovery and be back playing as soon as possible. I’d like to show my appreciation to the doctors, nurses, consultants and staff who have been treating me for their professionalism, warmth and understanding during this period. I want to thank everyone at the Football Association of Wales because without the swift attention of their medical team we may not have detected the illness. I’d also like to say thank you to AFC Bournemouth for all their support and assistance this past week. Although I appreciate that there will be media attention and interest, I would like to ask that my privacy is respected in the coming months and I will share updates on my progress when I am able to do so. In the meantime, thank you to everyone for their messages of support – it means so much and will continue to do so in the months ahead. I look forward to seeing you all again and playing the sport I love very soon.” Hodgkin lymphoma is an uncommon cancer that develops in the lymphatic system, which is a network of vessels and glands spread throughout your body. Brooks joined the Cherries from Sheffield United for a fee of £11.5m back in the summer of 2018, and has since made 78 appearances for the club, netting four goals. He has also emerged as an important player for Wales, scoring twice in 21 appearances.
Robert Durst has tested positive for Covid-19 and has been placed on a ventilator, according to his attorney. The 78-year-old real estate heir was sentenced to life in prison without parole on Thursday for the first degree murder of his friend Susan Berman at her Beverly Hills home. He was found guilty last month of shooting Ms Berman, 55, in the back of the head in December 2000. A jury also found him guilty of the special circumstances of lying in wait and killing a witness, which in California carries a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of early release. “All we know he’s tested positive for Covid-19, he’s in hospital and on a ventilator,” his attorney Dick DeGuerin told our Flying Monkey. “He looked awful Thursday, worst I’ve ever seen him. He was having difficulty breathing, he was having difficulty speaking.” Our Flying Monkey reports that Durst has been held in a wing of USC Medical Center under the watch of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department throughout the trial. It is not clear if he is still in that facility or when or where he became infected with the coronavirus. There are concerns about the exposure to the virus for others present at the trial in which dozens of people were packed into the courtroom. A month ago, the day that Durst was convicted by the jury, he was absent from proceedings because he had been exposed to someone who had tested positive for Covid-19. Durst spent much of the trial in a wheelchair but still engaged in tense exchanges when cross-examined regarding the death of Ms Berman more than 20 years ago. Prosecutors told his trial that Durst killed his friend because she knew too much about the 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathleen McCormack Durst. Ms Durst’s body has never been found after she disappeared in New York in 1982 and he has never been charged in connection with her death. The court was told that Ms Berman had provided a false alibi for Durst in 1982 and that he feared she would reveal that to authorities. Superior Court Judge Mark Windham, who presided over the trial and sentenced Durst in Los Angeles County on Thursday, described the murder as “awful and disturbing.” Durst, who appeared at his sentencing in prison uniform, testified in his own defence for 15 days, with prosecutors telling the jury that he had lied or changed his story multiple times. The trial took place six years after he appeared on the HBO documentary series The Jinx, where he appeared to confess to multiple killings. During the filming of the show, Durst was caught on a live microphone muttering to himself, “What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course.”
On This Day
- 1091 – London tornado of 1091: A tornado thought to be of strength T8/F4 strikes the heart of London.
- 1814 – Eight people die in the London Beer Flood.
- 1907 – Marconi begins the first commercial transatlantic wireless service.
- 1931 – Al Capone is convicted of income tax evasion.
- 1933 – Albert Einstein flees Nazi Germany and moves to the United States.
- 1956 – The first commercial nuclear power station is officially opened in Sellafield, England.
- 1849 – Frédéric Chopin, Polish pianist and composer (b. 1810).
- 1998 – Joan Hickson, English actress (b. 1906).
- 2008 – Levi Stubbs, American singer (b. 1936).
British MP’s Killed in Office
Sir David Amess, the MP for Southend West, is the ninth parliamentarian to be violently killed in office in British political history. The 69-year-old father-of-five was stabbed to death during a constituency surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday. A 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder, Essex Police said.
Tributes to Mr Amess quickly poured in from his parliamentary colleagues, with Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis saying he was “one of life’s truly nice people, a gentleman, who was always ready to give his help to anyone who needed it”.
The killing comes five years after Labour MP and mother-of-two Jo Cox was assassinated at the age of 41 by a far-right terrorist, who shot and stabbed her outside her North Yorkshire surgery. Jo’s widower, Brendan Cox, described Mr Amess’s killing as “an attack on democracy itself. There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets” he said.
Before the death of Ms Cox, the last MP to be killed in office was Ian Gow, 53, who lost his life after the IRA detonated a car bomb at his Sussex home in 1990. The Eastbourne MP, who had previously served as a private parliamentary secretary to Margaret Thatcher, was not the only British politician to die at the hands of the terrorist group.
Sir Anthony Berry was killed by the organisation’s bombing of Brighton’s Grand Hotel during the 1984 Tory Party conference, three years after the group shot dead the Ulster Unionist Party MP Robert Bradford in Belfast.
In 1979, the Conservative MP and former Northern Ireland secretary Airey Neave was assassinated by the Irish National Liberation Army. His car was blown up as he drove it out of the parliamentary car park.
These are the only sitting MPs to have been murdered since World War II. However, Andrew Pennington, who had previously served as a politician, was killed when he rushed to defend his boss, the Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones, from a samurai sword attack in January 2000.
Spencer Perceval, who was shot in the Commons in 1812, is the only prime minister to have been assassinated in office.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Michael McKean (74), Eminem (49), Mark Gatiss (55), George Wendt (73), Angela Lansbury (96), Tim Robbins (63), Suzanne Somers (75), Peter Bowles (85), Dominic West (52), Steve Coogan (56), Cliff Richard (81), Sacha Baron Cohen (50), Christopher Judge (57), Himesh Patel (31), Chris Carter (65), Paul Simon (80), Hugh Jackman (53), Josh Hutcherson (29), Hiroyuki Sanada (61), Robin Askwith (71), Michelle Trachtenberg (36), Claudia Black (49), Joan Cusack (59), Emily Deschanel (45), Jane Krakowski (53), Stephen Moyer (52), Lennie James (56), John Nettles (78), and Dawn French (64).
Another strange week, but I’m glad I’m not Chris Peckham, quietly going about his life until a bunch of nutters blow up a Land Rover in front of his house! Might be a good contender for next year? Also a couple of supercentenarian’s we all missed!!!!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Sir John Chilcot, 82, British civil servant, kidney disease.
- Cynthia Harris, 87, American actress (Edward & Mrs. Simpson, Three Men and a Baby).
- Alan Kalter, 78, American television announcer (Late Show with David Letterman).
- Sebastian Shaw, 53, Vietnamese-born American serial killer.
- Francisca Celsa dos Santos, 116, Brazilian supercentenarian, pneumonia.
- Jules Théobald, 112, French supercentenarian, oldest man in France (since 2019).
- Gerald Home, 70, British actor (Return of the Jedi, London Boulevard) and puppeteer (Little Shop of Horrors), liver cancer.
- Luisa Mattioli, 85, Italian actress (The Angel of the Alps, Mia nonna poliziotto, Romulus and the Sabines), third wife of Sir Roger Moore.
- James Brokenshire, 53, British politician, MP, secretary of state for Northern Ireland (2016–2018) and housing, communities and local government (2018–2019), lung cancer.
- Rick Jones, 84, Canadian-born British television presenter (Play School, Fingerbobs) and musician (Meal Ticket).
In Other News
Kim Kardashian’s ex Ray J has been hospitalised with pneumonia and placed in a Covid ward. The rapper, who previously dated the Kardashian, is currently receiving treatment in hospital after having breathing difficulties, his manager David Weintraub has revealed. Ray J is frustrated as he has been sent to a Covid ward for treatment, despite testing negative for the virus five times. He was sent to the Covid ward initially as doctors feared he had the virus as he was struggling with his breathing. However, he was moved out of the wing two days later and is currently receiving oxygen. Ray is asking for his fans to pray for him as he recovers from his illness and his sole focus has been getting better for the sake of his kids. There are times where he thinks he is improving as he feels fine at six in the morning, but by 6.30am, he is struggling with his breathing again and is starting to fear the worst. “I thought it was over. I started praying and knew God is good so I just kept praying,” he explained to the website of his first few hours in hospital, where he is being kept a close eye on by doctors. The British public will best know Ray J for his short-lived stint on Celebrity Big Brother. The rapper exited the show in 2017, just over a week after he first entered the famous house as he claims he was suffering from terrible pain from his teeth.
Fans of Fuller Goldsmith were sad to learn that the young chef had died days before his 18th birthday this Saturday. The TV star had been battling cancer, after his leukaemia returned five times. He is best known for Winning Chopped Junior 2017 when he was just 13-years-old. He was first diagnosed with the relentless illness when he was three. In August 2020, Fuller announced he was cancer-free but in February received the bad news that the leukaemia had returned for the fifth time. It came after he reported having nausea and dizziness symptoms a doctor, who ran some tests and found a brain tumour. In the run up to his death, Fuller’s father Scott Goldsmith, said that his son had taken a turn for the worse earlier this week. Scott told us: “He got tired and was ready to go. We damn sure didn’t wake up yesterday thinking this would be the day.” He continued: “We knew what the outcome was going to be, but we definitely didn’t think it was going to be yesterday. Monday he was up and moving about, building Legos, and watching all the football games. Yesterday morning he was running a fever, and struggling to breathe.” Scott added: “He was ready to go. He went peacefully in his sleep, no pain, no struggle, laying in his bed, and went to Heaven.” After finding out that his cancer had returned for a firth round, Fuller announced the sad news on Instagram at the time, revealing he would be starting 12 sessions of radiation therapy. When he was 13, Fuller pretended to be his mum and signed himself up to Chopped Junior. He ended up winning the show with his delicious beer-battered catfish with okra and landed a $10,000 prize, which he donated to the Division of Haematology and Paediatric Oncology at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
A world-famous gorilla who starred in a hilarious selfie has died in the arms of the man who rescued her. Ndakasi became a celebrity in 2019 after appearing in a selfie taken by animal rescuer Andre Bauma. The 12-year-old gorilla puffed her chest out in the funny photo alongside buddy Ndeze. Mr Bauma rescued Ndakasi after her mother was killed by an armed militia in Virunga National Park, Congo. For more than a decade, Andre and his colleagues cared for Ndakasi and helped her recover from the trauma of losing her mother. Because of that, she could never be released back into the wild. But Ndakasi did enjoy a happy life with Ndeze and other orphaned mountain gorillas at the parks Senkwekwe Center. In a moving statement Virunga National Park wrote: “It is with heartfelt sadness that Virunga announces the death of beloved orphaned mountain gorilla, Ndakasi. On the evening of 26th September, following a prolonged illness in which her condition rapidly deteriorated, Ndakasi took her final breath in the loving arms of her caretaker and lifelong friend, Andre Bauma.” The national park also remembered the viral World Earth Day selfie which made Ndakasi go viral. They wrote: “The photo features Ndakasi and her partner-in-crime, Ndeze, both standing relaxed on two feet, bellies out with cheeky grins. Their playful nature was a reminder to the world of how much we see ourselves in these animals and it’s one of the reasons Andre Bauma will miss her so dearly.” Andre added to the heightened feelings with his own beautiful message posted on the park website to remember Ndakasi. He wrote: “It was a privilege to support and care for such a loving creature, especially knowing the trauma Ndakasi suffered at a very young age. One could say that she took after her mother, Nyiransekuye, whose name means “someone happy to welcome others. I am proud to have called Ndakasi my friend.”
On This Day
- 1957 – The Windscale fire results in Britain’s worst nuclear accident.
- 2015 – Twin bomb blasts in the Turkish capital Ankara kill 109 and injure 500+.
- 2018 – Hurricane Michael makes landfall in the Florida Panhandle as a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane. It kills 57 people in the United States, 45 in Florida, and causes an estimated $25.1 billion in damage.
- 1913 – Adolphus Busch, German-American brewer, founded Anheuser-Busch (b. 1839).
- 1963 – Édith Piaf, French singer-songwriter and actress (b. 1915).
- 1983 – Ralph Richardson, English actor (b. 1902).
- 1985 – Yul Brynner, Russian actor (b. 1920).
- 1985 – Orson Welles, American actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1915).
- 2004 – Christopher Reeve, American actor, producer, and activist (b. 1952).
- 2009 – Stephen Gately, Irish singer-songwriter, dancer, and actor (b. 1976).
Serial Killer Archives
Sebastian Shaw was a Vietnam-born American serial killer and rapist responsible for at least three murders in Portland, Oregon between 1991 and 1992. When interviewed by detectives in prison, Shaw confessed to killing ten more people. He is the prime suspect for the 1994 murder of 14-year-old Jenny Lin in Castro Valley, California. At the time of his death he was serving three life sentences in the Oregon State Penitentiary.
Born Chau Quong Ho in the Phước Tuy Province of South Vietnam on November 28th 1967, he moved to Oregon with his father Van at a young age. As a young boy, Chau became an Altar Server at the local Saint Mary Catholic Church, but was reported to have problematic behaviour at school. Between August and November 1975, he lived at the Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, before a group from Port Arthur, Texas sponsored the father and son to move to the state. At age 14, the two moved to Woodburn, Oregon and attended the local high school, where Chau was reportedly enjoying himself. However, at one point, in a supposed suicide attempt, he overdosed on aspirin, but survived.
In 1985, Chau and Van got into a fight that resulted in the young man being beaten with a piece of wood. He then moved to live with his aunt and cousin in California, where he briefly worked for a company before joining the Marine Corps, serving in Okinawa, Japan. In 1990, Ho applied for an honorable discharge, and was sent back to Oregon, where he applied for a job as a security dispatcher for the Paragon Cable company. During this time, he legally changed his name to Sebastian Alexander Shaw.
Jay Rickbeil: On July 1st 1991, the body of 40-year-old Jay Rickbeil, a quadraplegic suffering from cerebral palsy, was found in his Portland home by his roommate and apartment manager Mac MacCartney. He had bled to death as a result of an injury to the neck, likely inflicted with a knife. According to his neighbours, Rickbeil was a New Age believer who would often invite strangers into his apartment to have discussions, and often attempted to convert the visitor to his religion. A trusting man, he would often give them a business card with his name and address, and occasionally even money, which often resulted in his personal possessions being stolen. At that time, Shaw had just been fired from his job at Paragon Cable, following complaints of sexual assault by his colleague Shirley Phillips. In order to vent out his anger, he picked Rickbeil at random, slashing his throat while the man lay in bed.
Donna Ferguson and Todd Rudiger: On July 20th 1992, a couple were found murdered in their trailer home by their fathers in Portland. Todd A. Rudiger, 29, and his live-in girlfriend Donna G. Ferguson, 18, were both stabbed in the necks and bled to death, with Donna having been bound and raped beforehand.
Jenny Lin: On May 27th 1994, after returning home from work, John Lin found the partially naked body of his 14-year-old daughter Jenny in the bathroom of the family’s home in the Palomares Hills neighbourhood, in Castro Valley. She had been stabbed multiple times, but, peculiarly, there were no signs of a struggle, any apparent sexual assault or any items missing from the house, which puzzled the investigators. She had no known enemies, was a straight A-student and gifted violinist who was about to graduate the following month. According to her friends, when they last spoke to her via phone around 5:15 p.m., Jenny said that she was fine and that she was currently at home. Authorities believed that Jenny’s killer was a man, as she had been easily overpowered, and that they did not know each other. They announced that they were looking for a young man on a motorcycle who was seen handing out leaflets in the area, as they wanted to question him as a potential witness.
John Lin later recalled that two weeks before his daughter’s death, he had been stopped at a parking lot by a disheveled man who claimed to have “got his daughter”, but, knowing that Jenny was on her violin lessons, he brushed the man off and left. Although this bizarre individual was not considered a suspect, a sketch of him was released to the press in an attempt to identify and then interrogate him. In the meantime, the Lin family created “Friends of Jenny Lin”, a volunteer organisation aimed at spreading awareness about their daughter’s case. In October, a neighbour came forward to police, claiming that they had seen a stocky man in a dark jacket and cap outside the Lin residence near the time of the murder, claiming that they had been afraid to come forward out of fear that the killer might return to exact revenge on the informants.
Arrest, trial, imprisonment
On August 31st 1994, Sebastian Shaw was arrested for burglary, after he was found asleep in a stolen 1978 Pontiac Bonneville in San Ramon. Among the items confiscated were a so-called “murder kit”, consisting of ski mask, surgical gloves, duct tape, knives, binoculars, and plastic handcuffs. As there was no evidence linking him to any murders at the time, he was let go. On February 20th 1998, he was arrested again and charged with the Rudiger/Ferguson murders and the 1995 rape of 18-year-old Amanda Carpova in Portland. His DNA was matched to the crime scenes after police obtained a discarded cigarette he had thrown out at a supermarket.
He plead guilty to the double murder and sexual assault of Carpova, but, in a rare decision, the judge acquitted Shaw of the Rickbeil murder before the trial on behest of the prosecutors. Sebastian was sentenced to two terms of life imprisonment instead. While in jail, he told a fellow inmate that he had killed a total of 13 people, information which was relayed to investigators. When two detectives came to interview him, Shaw said that his confession was truthful, and that he would name the victims if he was transferred to a federal prison where he could smoke, as smoking was prohibited in Oregon prisons. Two years later, he was convicted of Rickbeil’s murder and received another term of life imprisonment. That same year, he was officially announced as the prime suspect in the murder of Jenny Lin, but was not charged, as there was no physical evidence linking him to the murder. Prosecutors attempted to put him on trial the following year, but the charges were dropped. Lin’s murder officially remains unsolved.
Shaw died in prison on October 4th, 2021, having served 21 years of his sentence. Cause of death is currently unknown but is unlikely to have been Covid related as the state refuses to name inmates who have died of the virus. He was 53.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Dan Stevens (39), Rose McIver (33), Charles Dance (75), Manu Bennett (52), Martin Kemp (60), Chris O’Dowd (42), Tony Shalhoub (68), Brandon Routh (42), Scott Bakula (67), Brian Blessed (85), Sharon Osbourne (69), Matt Damon (51), Sigourney Weaver (72), Chevy Chase (78), Kristanna Loken (42), Paul Hogan (82), Karyn Parsons (55), Ardal O’Hanlon (56), R.L. Stine (78), Shawn Ashmore (42), Aaron Ashmore (42), Tim Minchin (46), Thom Yorke (53), Simon Cowell (62), Elisabeth Shue (58), Emily Mortimer (50), Ioan Gruffudd (48), Britt Ekland (79), Kate Winslet (46), Guy Pearce (54), Karen Allen (70), Jesse Eisenberg (38), Stephanie Cole (80), Glynis Johns (98), Clive Barker (69), Diane Morgan (46), Neil deGrasse Tyson (63), Bob Geldof (70), Christoph Waltz (65), Dakota Johnson (32), Alicia Silverstone (45), Melissa Benoist (33), Nick Mohammed (41), Susan Sarandon (75), Liev Schreiber (54), and Sarah Lancashire (57).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Roger Hunt, 83, English footballer (Liverpool, Bolton Wanderers, national team), world champion 1966.
- Darrell Bath, British punk guitarist (The Vibrators, The Dogs D’Amour).
- Vin Welch, 84, British actor (Coronation Street, The Bill), pneumonia.
- Tommy Kirk, 79, American actor (Old Yeller, The Shaggy Dog, The Misadventures of Merlin Jones).
- Ravil Isyanov, 59, Russian-born American actor (GoldenEye, K-19: The Widowmaker, Transformers: Dark of the Moon).
- Greg Gilbert, 44, English singer and guitarist (Delays), bowel cancer.
In Other News
Vic Reeves has candidly revealed he is ‘living with deafness’ after doctors discovered a tumour is growing on his brain and has cut off all hearing in one of his ears. The 62-year-old comedy star has been diagnosed with a vestibular schwannoma – also known as acoustic neuroma, which is a non-cancerous brain tumour. The NHS explains that acoustic neuromas “grow on the nerve used for hearing and balance, which can cause problems such as hearing loss and unsteadiness.” They can become dangerous if they grow to a large size – with Vic saying doctors are now monitoring his tumour to track it’s size, requiring regular trips for MRI scans. And he says he has now been robbed of all hearing in one ear, prompting him to throw out all his favourite old LPs. Opening up about his health battle Vic said: “I’ve got a vestibular schwannoma – it’s a tumour in my head. I’ve gone completely deaf, 100 per cent deaf, in the left ear, and it will never come back. It’s dead – absolutely completely gone. It’s like the size of a grape so they just have to keep an eye on it.” The comedian went on to explain that the growth is fortunately not at risk of being deadly, and he’s being advised on treatment. He said: “It’s benign. They can’t remove it – they can shrink it or they can leave it and keep an eye on it, and that’s what they’re doing. The eardrum and your brain, there’s a nerve and that takes all the information from your ear to your brain and the tumour is right in between the nerve, so it’s gone ping and snapped it and you can’t reattach nerves.” Describing how the illness has affected his life, the Shooting Stars legend said: “I had to throw away all me stereo LPs. I’m living with deafness. Can you imagine a life without stereo records – no more will I hear Jimi Hendrix, well the producer. On If 6 was 9 he goes all over the place. I thought it was great stereo when it first happened. All I’ve got left is Frank Ifield and mono!” He continued: “Because I like going out bird watching I never know where the birds are because I can hear them, but I don’t know what direction they’re in.
Phil Collins has been pictured leaving his hotel in a wheelchair before his gig in Leeds on Tuesday night. The musician, who recently admitted he can ‘barely hold a drumstick’ in one of his hands, has been suffering from ill health for the past 15 years. On Tuesday night, the 70-year-old performed alongside his band Genesis at Leeds Arena and remained seated throughout the show. As he belted out his hit songs, the musician stayed in his chair and leant against a microphone stand while treating a delighted audience to renditions of his best-loved songs. Ahead of the gig on Tuesday, the Genesis star was pictured in a wheelchair on Monday afternoon. As he was wheeled out of a hotel in Leeds, the drummer and singer wore a medical face mask and baseball cap as he was pictured out and about. Clutching a brown wooden walking stick, the One More Night singer kept warm in the cold weather conditions in a leather jacket and blue scarf. Earlier last month, Phil sparked concern amongst fans as he appeared on BBC Breakfast and gave a rare interview where he discussed his health. The dad-of-five has been suffering from ill health for the past 15 years with him suffering an injured vertebrae in his upper neck which has led to crippling nerve damage. During his chat on the early morning breakfast show, the award-winning artist spoke candidly about his future and admitted that the band he plays with will be retired after their current UK tour.
Katie Price has been seen for the first time since court as she was photographed on her way to rehab. The former glamour model, 43, has pleaded guilty to drink-driving, driving whilst disqualified and driving without insurance following a crash near her home in Sussex on Tuesday. The mother-of-five was involved in a single-car collision that left her BMW flipped on its side on the B2135 near Partridge Green. Katie’s sentencing has now been deferred until December 15th to allow her to have treatment at the Priory Centre and speak to the probation service. After her appearance in court, Katie was photographed driving through London on her way to the Priory. The star looked downcast and tense as she sat in the passenger seat of a Fiat 500. Katie held her hand to her forehead after pleading guilty to the charges. She was told that her sentence would be deferred on the condition that she have treatment at the Priory Centre, not commit any further offences, and be banned from driving in the interim. The reality TV star was told she must also engage with the probation service so a report can be prepared. It will not be the first time that the multi-millionaire has had a stint at the facility as she checked into rehab in September 2018 in order to tackle her drug issues. She spent 28 days in the facility after deciding to receive professional help after depending on cocaine to numb the pain of her problems.
On This Day
- 1863 – The last Thursday in November is declared as Thanksgiving Day by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.
- 1952 – The United Kingdom successfully tests a nuclear weapon to become the world’s third nuclear power.
- 1981 – The hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland ends after seven months and ten deaths.
- 1995 – The O. J. Simpson murder case ends with a verdict of not guilty.
- 42 BC – Gaius Cassius Longinus, Roman politician (b. 85 BC).
- 1226 – Francis of Assisi, Italian friar and saint (b. 1181 or 1182).
- 1283 – Dafydd ap Gruffydd, Welsh prince (b. 1238).
- 1998 – Roddy McDowall, English-American actor (b. 1928).
- 2004 – Janet Leigh, American actress (b. 1927).
- 2005 – Ronnie Barker, English actor and screenwriter (b. 1929).
- 2015 – Denis Healey, English soldier & politician, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (b. 1917)
Sometime in the spring of 1879, a child welfare worker approached Meaker and her husband to ask if they would consider taking Mr. Meaker’s eight-year-old niece, Alice and her brother, Henry, into their home, as the children were living in an overcrowded orphanage. Mr. Meaker was offered a stipend of US$400 (equivalent to $11,110 in 2020) to care for Alice, and so he agreed. Emeline Meaker was not pleased with the arrangement and beat, starved, and otherwise mistreated Alice.
Meaker decided to kill Alice, and ordered her son Almon to get a lethal dose of strychnine from an apothecary. On April 23rd, 1880, Meaker and Almon seized Alice, placed a sack over the girl’s head, and took her to a remote area outside Burlington. When they arrived at a clearing by a stream, Almon handed the poison to his mother and she poured it into a drink which she gave to Alice. While Alice thrashed about in reaction to the strychnine poisoning, Meaker forcibly held her hand over Alice’s mouth to keep the girl from crying out, keeping it there until Alice was dead, and then Almon and his mother buried Alice’s body.
Alice’s disappearance was investigated, and Almon confessed to the local sheriff. At trial, both he and Emeline were sentenced to death; however, Almon’s sentence was commuted by the Vermont Legislature because it was believed that he was dominated by his mother. Almon’s confession was published in the newspaper on the date set for Emeline’s execution. It was reported that Emeline acted violently while in jail, but calmed as her execution date drew nearer.
On March 30th, 1883, the morning of her scheduled execution, Meaker ate a large beefsteak, three potatoes, a slice of bread and butter, a piece of meat pie, and a cup of coffee. Then, at her request, she went to view the gallows, remarking that it was not half as bad as she thought it would be. She sent a message to her husband through the sheriff, and then ate a lunch consisting of two boiled eggs, two slices of toast, one potato, one doughnut, and a cup of coffee.
Over 125 spectators gathered in the prison guardroom at the Vermont State Prison in Windsor County, and it was reported that the sheriff was besieged with requests for passes to witness the hanging. When Meaker was finally led to the gallows, and asked (by slip of paper as she was deaf) if she had anything to say, Emeline said in a low voice, “May God forgive you all for hanging me, an innocent woman. I am as innocent as that man standing here,” indicating a deputy. None of her family was present at the execution and her husband and children did not accept her body for burial after the execution.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Denis Villeneuve (54), Alicia Vikander (33), Lena Headey (48), Clive Owen (56), Neve Campbell (48), Seann William Scott (45), Gwen Stefani (52), Tommy Lee (59), Greg Proops (62), Lorraine Bracco (67), Sting (70), Avery Brooks (73), Tiffany(50), Brie Larson (32), Julie Andrews (86), Zach Galifianakis (52), Randy Quaid (71), Monica Bellucci (57), Alistair Petrie (51), Kieran Culkin (39), Eric Stoltz (60), Omid Djalili (56), Ian Ogilvy (78), Rula Lenska (74), Zachary Levi (41), Ian McShane (79), Erika Eleniak (52), James Lance (46), Mackenzie Crook (50), Luke Goss (53), Robert Webb (49), Patricia Hodge (75), Naomi Watts (53), Mira Sorvino (54), Hilary Duff (34), Brigitte Bardot (87), Dita Von Teese (49), Gwyneth Paltrow (49), Indira Varma (48), Meat Loaf (74), Denis Lawson (74), and Avril Lavigne (37).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Al Harrington, 85, Samoan-American actor (Hawaii Five-O), stroke.
- Roger Michell, 65, South African-born British film director (Notting Hill, Venus, My Cousin Rachel).
- Willie Garson, 57, American actor (Sex and the City, White Collar, John from Cincinnati), pancreatic cancer.
- Robert Fyfe, 90, Scottish actor (Last of the Summer Wine, Around the World in 80 Days, Cloud Atlas), kidney disease.
- Matthew Strachan, 50, English composer (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?) and singer-songwriter.
- Melvin Van Peebles, 89, American film director, actor and playwright (Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, Posse, Ain’t Supposed to Die a Natural Death).
- Helmut Oberlander, 97, Ukrainian-born Canadian World War II soldier, member of the Einsatzgruppen.
- Alan Lancaster, 72, English rock bassist (Status Quo, The Party Boys), complications from multiple sclerosis.
In Other News
The television presenter Julia Bradbury has announced she has breast cancer, and urged other women to check their breasts and seek help if they notice any changes. The 51-year-old broadcaster will undergo a mastectomy in October to remove her left breast, along with its 6cm tumour. Surgeons will also take tissue from her lymph nodes to establish whether or not the disease has spread. Bradbury, who made her name presenting the BBC’s Countryfile, said she was going public in order to encourage others to get tested. “My plan is to come through it and out the other side and I hope to be able to do that bravely enough so that women who are scared to get tested, to get a diagnosis, go ahead. I want to be able to give them a wave and say: look, it’s horrible, but you can do it too.” She urged women not to ignore warning signs: “We must, must, must check ourselves and seek help. Being scared of a diagnosis could be the thing which kills you. So learn what to look for and check, check, check. Doctors are experts but only you can press a lump, know how it feels and think you should do something about it.” Doctors have told her the cancer cells are currently confined to her milk ducts and have not yet spread to the breast tissue. This means that, despite the significant size of the tumour, she may not need chemotherapy.
Harry Potter star Tom Felton was carried off a golf course in Wisconsin during a Ryder Cup Celebrity Match on Thursday. Felton, 34, who is famous for playing Draco Malfoy in the popular Harry Potter franchise, suffered a ‘medical incident’ on the golf course, according to the PGA of America. A statement from the PGA of America said: “In today’s Ryder Cup Celebrity Match, actor and musician Tom Felton experienced a medical incident on the course while participating for Europe. He was transported to a local hospital for treatment. No further details are available.” Pictures show Felton looking shaken as he is helped to his feet by fellow players, volunteers and tournament officials.
Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Snow Patrol are among leading figures in the music industry to pay tribute to music agent Steve Strange. The co-founder of X-Ray Touring, from Carrickfergus, in County Antrim, died following illness, aged 53. X-Ray Touring has the likes of Eminem, Erasure, Linkin Park, Kodaline, Queens of the Stone Age and Stereophonics on its books. “Steve was a titan of the global music industry,” Limelight Belfast said. The music venue described Mr Strange as “an unsung hero, and a fantastic and loyal friend to this venue and to Northern Ireland’s music community for more than 40 years”. Mr Strange started his music industry career at Limelight Belfast in the 1980s, according to the venue, before becoming an agent in London a few years later. Writing on Instagram, Grammy Award winning artist Ed Sheeran said it was “a very sad day, and a huge loss”. While Coldplay said it was “devastated” by the news of Mr Strange’s death. On Twitter, the band said it spent “a bittersweet hour” with Mr Strange last week. “Despite his illness he was still taking calls and watching ticket counts.” Rock band Snow Patrol said that their agent “believed in us before almost anyone else in the music industry did”. To picture a world without him in it is to picture a world so diminished. With less joy, less positivity, less optimism, less heart. Quieter, duller and much less interesting,” said the band. “So instead we’ll remember the joy he brought so many people and tell Steve Strange Stories.” Strangely enough, Strange does not have a Wiki page.
On This Day
- 1580 – Francis Drake finishes his circumnavigation of the Earth in Plymouth, England.
- 1905 – Albert Einstein publishes the third of his Annus Mirabilis papers, introducing the special theory of relativity.
- 1933 – As gangster Machine Gun Kelly surrenders to the FBI, he shouts out, “Don’t shoot, G-Men!”, which becomes a nickname for FBI agents.
- 1953 – Rationing of sugar in the United Kingdom ends. Due to start again in December 2021.
- 1959 – Typhoon Vera, the strongest typhoon to hit Japan in recorded history, makes landfall, killing 4,580 people and leaving nearly 1.6 million others homeless.
- 1969 – Abbey Road, the last recorded album by the Beatles, is released.
- 1973 – Concorde makes its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time.
- 1902 – Levi Strauss, German-American businessman, founded Levi Strauss & Co. (b. 1829).
- 1937 – Bessie Smith, American singer and actress (b. 1894).
- 2003 – Robert Palmer, English singer-songwriter (b. 1949).
- 2008 – Paul Newman, American actor, director, producer, and businessman (b. 1925).
- 2019 – Jacques Chirac, French politician and President of France (b. 1932).
Richard Glossip is an American prisoner currently on death row at Oklahoma State Penitentiary after being convicted of commissioning the 1997 murder of Barry Van Treese. Justin Sneed, the man who murdered Van Treese, agreed to plead guilty in exchange for testifying against Glossip, and received a sentence of life without parole. Glossip is the recipient of international attention due to the unusual nature of his conviction, for which there is little or no additional corroborating evidence.
On January 7th, 1997, Justin Sneed beat Barry Van Treese to death gruesomely with a baseball bat. The killing occurred at the Best Budget Inn in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where Van Treese was the owner, Sneed was the maintenance man, and Richard Glossip was the manager. In exchange for avoiding the death penalty, Sneed confessed and told police that Glossip had instructed him to commit the murder.
Glossip insisted on his innocence and refused to accept a plea bargain. In July 1998, an Oklahoma jury convicted Glossip of the murder and sentenced him to death. In 2001, the unanimous Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals threw out that conviction, calling the case “extremely weak” and finding Glossip had received unconstitutionally ineffective assistance of counsel.
In August 2004, a second Oklahoma jury convicted Glossip of the murder and sentenced him to death. Glossip complained that prosecutors had intimidated his defence attorney into resigning, but, in April 2007, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the death sentence, with two judges in the majority, one judge specially concurring, and two judges dissenting. Glossip attracted the advocacy of Sister Helen Prejean, but failed to get the clemency board to consider letters from Sneed’s family, who believe Sneed is lying.
Glossip’s legal team asserts that Justin Sneed was addicted to methamphetamine at the time that he murdered Van Treese, and that he habitually broke into vehicles in the parking lot of the Best Budget Inn while he was employed as a maintenance man. Glossip’s execution is controversial in that he was convicted almost entirely on the testimony of Sneed, who confessed to bludgeoning Van Treese to death with an aluminium baseball bat by himself and who was spared a death sentence himself by implicating Glossip.
In September and October 2015, Glossip was granted three successive stays of execution due to questions about Oklahoma’s lethal injection drugs, which makes him the only man known to have had three last meals, possibly facing a fourth!
For his three last meals, he’s had the same four items every time: fish and chips, a Wendy’s Baconator, a strawberry shake, and pizza — Pizza Hut once, Dominos twice. He’s also listened as two men have been put to death, botched lethal injections both. And, as soon as early next year, he could be there again, in that endless daylight cell, waiting for death.
Glossip’s team are convinced they can prove his innocence. The problem is that Glossip was denied clemency in 2014, and inmates usually don’t get a second hearing. “I try to encourage people that there’s always hope,” says Glossip. “Look at me, I survived three executions.”
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jim Caviezel (53), Linda Hamilton (65), Olivia Newton-John (73), Lysette Anthony (58), Serena Williams (40), Ricky Tomlinson (82), Jon Richardson (39), Will Smith (53), Catherine Zeta-Jones (52), Mikael Persbrandt (58), Michael Douglas (77), Mark Hamill (70), Michael Madsen (64), Heather Locklear (60), Felicity Kendal (75), Kevin Sorbo (63), Sven-Ole Thorsen (77), Anthony Mackie (43), Rosalind Chao (64), Karl Pilkington (49), Bruce Springsteen (72), Tom Felton (34), Billie Piper (39), Sue Perkins (52), Ruth Jones (55), Joan Jett (63), Nick Cave (64), Bill Murray (71), Luke Wilson (50), Stephen King (74), David Wenham (56), Ricki Lake (53), Alfonso Ribeiro (50), Jon Bernthal (45), Kristen Johnston (54), Sophia Loren (87), Asia Argento (46), Moon Bloodgood (46), George R.R. Martin (73), Michelle Visage (53), and Connor Swindells (25).
Points!!! Well done to Laura, Louise, Julie, Neil, Mark, Chrissy, Martin, Paula, and Ron for correctly listing Jimmy Greaves. All of you get 69 poin1ts each. But a special well done to Martin who finally broke his duck, now everyone has scored some points this year. Also, as some of you who follow the Telegram channel already know, we have a further 44 points for Paul C as I missed the passing of Arthur Smith back in August. Well done everyone!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Fran Bennett, 84, American actress (Nightingales, Sunset Beach, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare).
- Bob Enyart, 62, American talk radio host, Covid-denier and anti-vaxxer, COVID-19.
- Antony Hewish, 97, British radio astronomer, Nobel Prize laureate (1974).
- Norm Macdonald, 61, Canadian comedian, actor, and screenwriter (Saturday Night Live, The Norm Show, Dirty Work), leukaemia.
- Geoff Hill, 52, British news editor (ITV News), leukaemia.
- Jane Powell, 92, American actress (A Date with Judy, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Royal Wedding), singer and dancer.
- Sir Clive Sinclair, 81, English entrepreneur and inventor.
- Jimmy Greaves, 81, English footballer (Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, national team), world champion (1966).
- John Challis, 79, British actor (Only Fools and Horses, Benidorm), cancer.
And a missed death from 21st August 2021
In Other News
Brazil soccer legend Pele has re-entered an intensive care unit at Sao Paulo’s Albert Einstein Hospital, the evil flying monkeys on Friday, in an apparent deterioration of his health after he left the unit earlier this week. The hospital said it had no new information. Pele, an 80-year-old, three-time World Cup winner, was re-admitted to the ICU due to acid reflux. He had a colon tumour removed this month and was transferred out of the ICU on Tuesday. After leaving the ICU, he said in a message to fans on Instagram that he was ready for “90 minutes, plus extra time.” But that proved to be rather premature. Pele has suffered from hip problems for years and cannot walk unaided. His public appearances were already being cut before the COVID-19 pandemic and since then he has made few unnecessary forays outside his house near Santos. It was initially reported that he was not “seriously ill” in hospital, but after the operation to remove the tumour he stated he was “used to celebrating great victories” and would “face this match with a smile”. Now 80 years old, Pele earned 92 caps for Brazil and won three World Cup titles, in 1958, 1962 and 1970.
Coronation Street’s Craig Charles has revealed how his “breathing is laboured” after getting Covid. The actor and DJ, 57, told fans he had tested positive for coronavirus and is self-isolating. The Red Dwarf star took to Twitter to tell followers he was feeling very unwell. Craig’s post read: “Okay guys I don’t want to alarm, but I’ve caught the Covid. Breathing is a bit laboured which is a worry, but I’ve got an oxymonitor so so far no hospital. Starting to feel a bit better but have to isolate, Sorry to let everyone down. Back soon.” Hundreds of fans then responded by sending the one-time rapist (allegedly) supportive messages. One fan wrote: “Get well soon Craig, my wife and I both have it this week too, trying to rest up, hope you are too.” Craig became a household name when he landed the role of slob technician Dave Lister, the last known survivor of the human race, in the cult BBC sci-fi comedy series Red Dwarf, beating Hugh Laurie to the role. In 2005, Craig joined the Coronation Street cast as taxi driver Lloyd Mullaney and was given free rein to introduce various aspects of the character’s personality. He quit his role on the soap in May 2015 in order to concentrate on filming the new series of Red Dwarf.
Elton John has postponed dates of his farewell tour after injuring himself in an “awkward” fall, which has resulted in him experiencing “difficulty moving”. The star, 74, revealed that his upcoming UK and European tour dates of his 2021 Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour have been rescheduled to 2023, after being left in “considerable” pain following a fall earlier this year. In a post to his 3.6 million Instagram followers, the Tiny Dancer hitmaker shared that he’d hurt his hip after “falling awkwardly on a hard surface”. Elton wrote: “It is with great sadness and a heavy heart that I am forced to reschedule the 2021 dates of my Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour in Europe and the UK to 2023. At the end of my summer break I fell awkwardly on a hard surface and have been in considerable pain and discomfort in my hip ever since. Despite intensive physio and specialist treatment, the pain has continued to get worse and is leading to increasing difficulties moving,” he said. “I have been advised to have an operation as soon as possible to get me back to full fitness and make sure there are no long-term complications. I will be undertaking a programme of intensive physiotherapy that will ensure a full recovery and a return to full mobility without pain.” Despite postponing his tour dates, the iconic singer told that he would still be going ahead with a charity event, as he didn’t want to disappoint the organisation. Elton explained: “I am going to complete the charitable Global Citizen event on 25th September as I don’t want to let a charity down. Being just five songs it’s a very different physical undertaking to the demands of playing for close to three hours every night on tour and travelling overnight between countries.” He confirmed that following the event, he will be having surgery to ensure he can start performing in as soon as three months time. “After this I will be having the operation to ensure the tour can get back on the road in January of 2022 in New Orleans,” he continued. “I know how patient my incredible fans have been since Covid halted touring last year, and it breaks my heart to keep you waiting any longer.” Elton signed off by promising his loyal fans that the postponed farewell show will be worth waiting for. Last year, the star revealed in February that he had been diagnosed with walking pneumonia, which is an inflammation of the airways.
First Dates’ barman Merlin Griffiths has revealed he is battling bowel cancer after receiving a bleak diagnosis from doctors at Northampton General Hospital. The 46-year-old was told he has a 75% chance of living for more than five years after medical tests unearthed a stage three tumour that measured 4.5cm in length. Speaking to the Evil Monkeys, Merlin said: ‘I’m keeping that positive outlook, but I’ve a morbid sense of humour. I tell people, “I have colorectal cancer… it’s a real pain in the arse!” Merlin has a seven-year-old daughter called Alix with his partner Lucille, 40, who he has been with for more than a decade and will be by his side as he faces a year of life-saving treatment. When the barman told his young daughter of the troubling diagnosis he reassured her of the powers of modern medicine and gushed about the public healthcare system. He said: ‘I have so much faith in medicine and the NHS in this country, which is just so incredible.’ Keeping his emotions behind closed doors, Merlin admitted: ‘I’ve shed a tear in private. But you can choose “to do” or “not to do”. I chose to lead my life as normal, to stick to the facts about it, and to keep putting one step in front of the other.’ The TV personality, who became a household name alongside Fred Sirieix in the First Dates restaurant, started to feel pain in June but thought it was caused by an old stomach injury from a car accident in his 20s. Merlin was diagnosed with bowel cancer six weeks ago and said his tumour looked like an alien and felt like a walnut stuck inside of him. Doctors discovered the tumour when they gave the barman an emergency sigmoidoscopy to probe his lower intestine after the star spent three months telling people he felt something wrong in his body. Merlin admitted he was terrified by the ordeal but immediately focused on his chances of survival following his diagnosis. The star revealed that his tumour wanted to move into the tissue surrounding it but wasn’t ‘lymph’ – meaning the cancer thankfully hadn’t spread. His oncologist hopes to remove his tumour in three months time, after which he will continue with other life-saving treatment.
Professor Tim Wilson, the former UK Independence Party candidate for South Northamptonshire and more famously a contestant on the Channel 4 series The Circle, announced on Instagram that he’s had a rather serious bowel cancer diagnosis after haemorrhaging into his trousers! He also revealed that whilst having his balloon knot studied by medical professionals, that a nurse recognised him from the show. He has no idea how she did so as he was wearing a surgical mask and had his trousers around his ankles at the time. Anyhow, he’s off for a ‘serious operation’ next week. While taking part in The Circle, Wilson claimed he actually voted to Remain and wished to “expose UKIP from the inside” which probably helped him win the shows “Viewers’ Champion” title for being the most popular finalist by viewer’s vote, winning a £30,000 prize.
On This Day
- 1846 – Two French shepherd children, Mélanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud, experience a Marian apparition on a mountaintop near La Salette, France, now known as Our Lady of La Salette.
- 1881 – U.S. President James A. Garfield dies of wounds suffered in a July 2nd shooting. Vice President Chester A. Arthur becomes President upon Garfield’s death.
- 1970 – Michael Eavis hosts the first Glastonbury Festival.
- 1991 – Ötzi the Iceman is discovered in the Alps on the border between Italy and Austria.
- 1881 – James A. Garfield, American general, lawyer, and politician, and the 20th President of the United States (b. 1831).
- 1998 – Patricia Hayes, English actress (b. 1909).
- 2015 – Jackie Collins, English novelist (b. 1937).
Bobby Joe Long was an American serial killer and rapist who was executed by the state of Florida for the murder of Michelle Denise Simms. Long abducted, sexually assaulted, and murdered at least 10 women in the Tampa Bay Area in Florida during an eight-month period in 1984. He released one of his last victims, 17-year-old Lisa McVey, after raping her over a period of 26 hours. McVey provided critical information to the police that enabled them to arrest Long.
Long was born on October 14, 1953 in Kenova, West Virginia to Joe and Louetta Long. Long was born with an extra X chromosome, also known as 47,XXY, a specific variant of Klinefelter syndrome. This condition results in excessive oestrogen production yielding some female traits such as breast development. Long was teased as a child for his large breasts and underwent breast reduction surgery in adolescence. Long also suffered multiple head injuries as a child. Long had a dysfunctional relationship with his mother; he slept in her bed until he was a teenager and reportedly resented her multiple short-term boyfriends. Long married his high school girlfriend in 1974, with whom he had two children before she filed for divorce in 1980.
Long committed at least 50 rapes as the “Classified Ad Rapist” in Fort Lauderdale, Ocala, Miami, and Dade County.
Starting around 1981, Long began contacting women through the Penny Saver and other classified ads. When Long found a woman alone, he asked to use the bathroom, took out his “rape kit” and raped and robbed the woman. Long was tried and convicted for rape in 1981 but requested a new trial, which was granted. The charges were later dropped, because that was a thing back then….
Long moved to the Tampa Bay area in 1983. In 1984, while on probation for assault, Long raped and strangled 20-year-old Artiss “Ann” Wick in March; her body was discovered in a rural area on November 22, 1984.
Over the next eight months, Long abducted, raped, and murdered at least 10 women in three counties in the Tampa Bay area. The investigation involved personnel from the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office, the FBI, the Tampa Police Department (TPD), the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO), and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE).
The bodies of the victims were typically found in a state of decomposition long after the murders, having been dumped near a rural roadside or dragged into the woods. Long appears to have targeted vulnerable women, including abducting women walking alone and those working as sex workers, persuading women to enter his car where he would rape and torture them. Of Long’s 10 known victims, five of the women were identified as known sex workers, two as exotic dancers. The remaining three victims were a factory worker, a student, and one with an unknown occupation.
During this period, Long also continued his classified-ad rapes, attacking 33-year-old Linda Nuttall in her home.
In the early hours of November 3, 1984, Long abducted 17-year-old Lisa McVey as she rode her bike home from work. She was blindfolded and taken to Long’s home, where he repeatedly raped her. Aware of the danger she was in, the blindfolded McVey reported leaving as many fingerprints in Long’s home as she could to aid any future police investigation. After 26 hours, Long released McVey and she provided investigators with information on his home, car and a time period in which she heard him use an ATM Machine. This led to police identifying Long and he was arrested on November 16, 1984. He was linked to the murders through red carpet fibres found on the bodies of several victims.
At the time of his capture, Long was wanted in three Tampa Bay area jurisdictions where investigators had collected multiple forms of forensic evidence, including clothing, carpet fibres, semen, ligature marks, and rope knots.
Long was arrested outside a movie theatre on November 16, 1984, and charged with the sexual battery and kidnapping of Lisa McVey. Long signed a formal Miranda waiver, and consented to questioning. After the detectives procured a confession for the McVey case, their questioning focused on a series of unsolved sexual battery homicides in the Tampa Bay area. As the detectives questioned Long about the murders, he replied, “I’d rather not answer that.”
The detectives continued the interrogation, and handed Long photographs of the various murder victims. At this point, Long stated, “The complexion of things sure have changed since you came back into the room. I think I might need an attorney.” No attorney was provided, and Long eventually confessed to eight murders in Hillsborough County, and one murder in Pasco County.
According to the Florida Department of Corrections, Long was ultimately serving one five-year sentence, four 99-year sentences, 28 life sentences, and one death sentence.
On April 23, 2019, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Long’s death warrant, this being the first death warrant signed by DeSantis since he took office in January 2019. Long’s subsequent appeals were denied and he was executed by lethal injection on May 23, 2019, more than 30 years after his conviction. He ate his final meal at 9:30 am local time; he requested roast beef, bacon, french fries and soda. He was pronounced dead at 6:55 pm and had made no last statement.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Danielle Panabaker (34), Jeremy Irons (73), David McCallum (88), Jimmy Fallon (47), Twiggy (72), Jason Sudeikis (46), Jada Pinkett Smith (50), James Marsden (48), Keeley Hazell (35), Tim McInnerny (65), Cassandra Peterson (70), Bruce Spence (76), Mickey Rourke (69), Madeline Zima (36), Amy Poehler (50), Nick Jonas (29), Danny John-Jules (61), Tom Hardy (44), Tommy Lee Jones (75), Oliver Stone (75), Jimmy Carr (49), Brendan O’Carroll (66), Andrew Lincoln (48), Sam Neill (74), and Walter Koenig (85).
Quite a few deaths this week, but one stands out to me. The sad story of footballer Jean-Pierre Adams, who was capped 22 times for his country only to spend from March 1982 until his death last week in a coma as a result of mistakes made during a ligament operation on his knee.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Tony Selby, 83, English actor (Get Some In!, Doctor Who, Witchfinder General), COVID-19.
- Jean-Paul Belmondo, 88, French actor (Breathless, That Man from Rio, Pierrot le Fou).
- Michael K. Williams, 54, American actor (The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Bessie).
- Jean-Pierre Adams, 73, French footballer (Nîmes, Nice, national team).
- Phil Jerrod, 41–42, British stand-up comedian, sarcoma.
- Edward Barnes, 92, British television executive and producer, co-creator of Blue Peter.
- Art Metrano, 84, American actor (Police Academy, They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?, Joanie Loves Chachi) and comedian.
- María Mendiola, 69, Spanish pop singer (Baccara).
In Other News
Big Brother series 5 star Becki Seddiki has been diagnosed with leukaemia after she went to the GP for blood tests following concerns about her health. She’s been chronicling her journey with her health on TikTok after revealing she had been diagnosed with leukaemia last month. Becki explained that she has been undergoing routine blood tests after she was left concerned about her health, with results confirming it was leukaemia. She has been in hospital since her diagnosis and is now hoping to leave and return home for almost two weeks tomorrow – and after packing her bags she is prepped and ready. She said: “I mean, yeah, hope we stick to it. I hope my body behaves and doesn’t spike in temperature or anything.” Her trip home would still be brief, adding that it wouldn’t be a full two weeks but it would be close, she continued: “I can’t wait, oh my God, I can’t wait.” Becki has been incredibly open with her followers through her social media accounts, with the reality star sharing a clip of her shaving her hair as she added: “When you are bored and you know treatment will take away your hair.” She also shared the clip onto her Instagram as she said she “had no choice” but to shave it off. Becki was showered with love after posting the clip, with one user writing: “Get well soon Becki!”, while another said: “Sending power hugs to you! Stay strong and get well soon!”, a third person added: “You are a strong woman.” Her decision to go and get tests done came after she was left feeling exhausted and wanted a clean bill of health. She said: “I told my GP I needed a clean bill of health because of self-medicating on recreational drugs for so long and I realised I was an addict and went to some NA meetings and had been clean for 40 days. “And today I get this diagnosis. It explains a lot, it explained why I have been feeling tired, why my hair has been falling out.” She old her followers that she is hoping to get better soon and reassured them that she will update them along the way.
Erik Cowie, one of the zookeepers who used to work at Joe Exotic’s ‘Tiger King’ zoo has died aged 53. According to reports, Cowie was found in a residence in New York City on Friday, September 3rd. Cowie had worked and lived in Oklahoma in recent years, continuing to work at GW Zoo after Exotic’s arrest, and it is unclear what he was doing in New York. However, he was reportedly found in a bedroom of the residence, though it is not yet known who the residence belonged to. The death is not considered suspicious, the monkeys report. While no drugs were found on the scene, they reported that a toxicology test will likely be ordered. Cowie was one of Joe Exotic’s animal caretakers and featured on the famous Netflix series about the zoo. Cowie even went on to testify against the Tiger King himself, saying he had seen Joe order the shooting and killing of some of the zoo’s animals. In January 2020, Joe Exotic, real name Joseph Maldonado-Passage, was sentenced to 22 years in federal prison. He was convicted of trying to hire two hitmen to murder animal rights activist Carole Baskin. Earlier this year, Cowie was caught driving under the influence in Oklahoma after a car accident. He pleaded guilty to the offence, however he did not show up to court and an arrest warrant was subsequently issued. Prior to working with Exotic, Cowie admitted to a one-time drinking problem, but denied using any other drugs, according to the monkeys.
Michael Schumacher’s wife has offered a rare update on her husband’s condition as part of of a new documentary on the F1 legend’s life. The seven-time world champion suffered a severe brain injury while skiing with his son back in December 2013 and following several operations is now cared for in private by his family in Geneva, Switzerland. Details around his condition have been scarce in the years since his accident, but Corinna Schumacher, who has been married to Michael since 1995, has opened up about his health for the new programme that begins streaming on Netflix later this month. “Michael is here. Different, but he’s here, and that gives us strength, I find,” she says. “We’re together. We live together at home. We do therapy. We do everything we can to make Michael better and to make sure he’s comfortable. And to simply make him feel our family, our bond. And no matter what, I will do everything I can. We all will. We’re trying to carry on as a family, the way Michael liked it and still does. And we are getting on with our lives. Private is private’, as he always said. It’s very important to me that he can continue to enjoy his private life as much as possible. Michael always protected us and now we are protecting Michael.” Schumacher remains one of the icons of Formula One with his records for wins, pole positions and podium finishes only just eclipsed by current world champion Lewis Hamilton.
Those tuning into BBC Breakfast on Thursday morning were taken aback by Phil Collins appearance as he joined his Genesis bandmates to speak on their upcoming tour and retirement. The musician admitted he found his health “very frustrating” as he can no longer hold a stick or play the drums. Fans rushed to Twitter to share their concern for the singer. Recalling his audition for Genesis, Phil said: “I thought I might get £10 a eek for a few months until they saw through me and then I’d be back out on the street again.” With Phil’s son on stage with the band playing the drums, the singer continued: “I’m kind of physically challenge a bit which is very frustrating because I’d love to be playing up there with my son.”Asked if he can still play, Phil sighed: “No, I’d love to. But I mean, I can barely hold a stick with this hand. There are certain physical things that get in the way.” Looking towards the future, Phil hinted the band would retire after their upcoming tour. “We’re all men of our age and I think to some extent, yeah, I think it probably is putting it to bed,” he explained. “I think yeah, I think just generally for me, I don’t know if I want to go out on the road anymore.” Those watching were quick to voice their concern for Phil with many suggesting he does not tour anymore. Phil, 70, has previous spoken about his health problems after he sustained an injured vertebrae in his upper neck, crippling nerve damage, acute pancreatitis, falls, and “foot drop”. Speaking in 2016 about being rushed to hospital with acute pancreatitis in 2012, he admitted he was “close to dying”. He recalled: “Within months you’re drinking vodka from the fridge in the morning and falling over in front of the kids, you know. But it was something I lived through, and I was lucky to live through it and get through it. I was very close to dying.” Phil added: “My organs were kind of f****d. It was spirits, corrosive stuff.”
On This Day
- 1857 – The SS Central America sinks about 160 miles east of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, drowning a total of 426 passengers and crew, including the Captain. The ship was carrying 13–15 tons of gold from the California Gold Rush.
- 1940 – Cave paintings are discovered in Lascaux, France.
- 1958 – Jack Kilby demonstrates the first working integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments.
- 1959 – Bonanza premieres, the first regularly scheduled TV program presented in colour.
- 1962 – President Kennedy delivers his “We choose to go to the Moon” speech at Rice University.
- 1977 – South African anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko dies in police custody.
- 1977 – Steve Biko, South African activist (b. 1946)
- 1992 – Anthony Perkins, American actor, singer, and director (b. 1932)
- 1993 – Raymond Burr, Canadian-American actor and director (b. 1917)
- 1995 – Jeremy Brett, English actor (b. 1933)
- 2003 – Johnny Cash, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1932)
- 2012 – Derek Jameson, English journalist and broadcaster (b. 1929)
- 2014 – Ian Paisley, Northern Irish evangelical pastor and politician (b. 1926)
Last Week’s Birthdays
Alfie Allen (35), Linda Gray (81), Virginia Madsen (60), Tyler Hoechlin (34), Roxann Dawson (63), Elizabeth Henstridge (34), Johnny Vegas (50), Guy Ritchie (53), Colin Firth (61), Adam Sandler (55), Hugh Grant (61), Eric Stonestreet (50), Jeffrey Combs (67), Julia Sawalha (53), Rachel Hunter (52), Martin Freeman (50), Heather Thomas (64), Julian Richings (66), Pink (42), Miles Jupp (42), Evan Rachel Wood (34), Toby Jones (55), Julie Kavner (71), Doug Bradley (67), Chrissie Hynde (70), Idris Elba (49), Michael Winslow (63), and Macy Gray (54).
It was just an average week, no points and lots of sad stories; however just as I was about to post this weeks edition, news of Sarah Harding’s death came through. Rewrites and points to award!!! So 211 points to Nickie, Laura, Lee & Louise as they all listed her as their Woman, which has now changed the top of the league table considerably. We have a new leader!!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Ed Asner, 91, American actor (The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou Grant, Up).
- Geronimo, 8, New Zealand-born British alpaca, euthanised.
- Daffney, 46, American professional wrestler (WCW, SHINE, TNA).
- Robbie Dale, 81, British radio presenter (Radio Caroline).
- Willard Scott, 87, American weatherman (Today) and creator of Ronald McDonald.
- Sarah Harding, 39, English singer (Girls Aloud), cancer.
In Other News
Katie Price has revealed she offered her mum her lung as she is still waiting for a transplant as she battles a terminal disease. Katie’s beloved mother Amy is battling idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), which causes scarring on the lungs, and makes it hard for the body to take in oxygen, becoming worse over time. Amy was diagnosed in 2017 and as the disease worsens, she is looking at all options to ease the situation, including a lung transplant. Speaking to us, Katie, 43, revealed she had even offered her mum one of her lungs. She said: “My mum, she’s never smoked, always been healthy. She got told a couple years ago, coming up to three years, that she would have three to five years left of her life. You know, it’s gonna happen. She still does a spinning classes. She’s got like 34 per cent left of her lung capacity, so she has started oxygen, which isn’t nice to see because I, in my head, it’s that once you start the oxygen and you need that, you know it’s coming. So she’s waiting to see if she can have a lung transplant. I even offered my lung to her.” However, Katie explained it wasn’t as simple as giving her mother a lung, telling Simon: “But it’s not that easy. You have to be ill enough to have it. Although my mother she could have it now, it doesn’t mean to say that she’d still survive it because it can reject in three weeks and it only prolongs your life five years.” Very brave of Katie, especially more so as she’s still recovering from a good beating by her fiancé.
Former professional wrestler Daffney Unger has died at age 46. Unger’s mother Jean Tookey Spruill (the wrestler’s real name was Shannon Spruill) confirmed her death, writing on Facebook, “It is with great sadness I have to let you know that my daughter Shannon Spruill … Scream Queen Daff, passed away suddenly last night. Absolutely heartbroken.” On Wednesday, Unger sparked concerns after she hosted an Instagram Live that showed her holding what appeared to be a small gun. In her video, Unger discussed potentially having symptoms of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disorder caused by repeated concussions. “The most important thing to remember is, that, CTE, and head injuries and concussions, they can only really now be—” Unger said in the video, before pausing and taking several nervous breaths. “They can now really only be diagnosed after you are dead. So, I don’t want to do anything to hurt my brain. I want to be studied,” she continued. “I want the future generations to know. Don’t do stupid shit like me.” After the Instagram Live, former pro wrestler Mick Foley used Twitter to ask people to help locate Unger. “If anyone has a way of reaching Daffney Unger, or knows her address, please help out,” Foley said. “She’s in a bad personal place and is threatening to harm herself. My phone call went straight to voicemail.” A cause of death has not been released.
Richard E Grant has said his heart is broken following the death of his wife of 35 years. The actor, known for films including Withnail And I and Can You Ever Forgive Me?, said Joan Washington, a voice coach, had died on Thursday night. He did not give a cause of death. Sharing a video of them dancing together to the song Only You by the Platters on Twitter, he wrote: “ONLY YOU! Joan – Love of my Life & Giver of Life to our daughter Olivia. Our hearts are broken with the loss of your Life last night. 35 years married & 38 together. To be truly known and seen by you, is your immeasurable gift. Do not forget us, sweet Monkee-mine.” Grant, 64, also shared a series of broken heart emojis, prompting condolences and messages of support from his followers. He and Washington married in 1986 and share a daughter, Olivia, and a stepson, Tom, from Washington’s previous relationship. Washington, from Aberdeen, trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama and had nearly 40 years’ experience in the film industry as a voice and dialect coach, working with stars including Anne Hathaway, Vanessa Redgrave and Emma Stone. Among her early projects in the mid-80s were Yentl starring Barbra Streisand, Highlander, and The Bounty, featuring Mel Gibson and Sir Anthony Hopkins.
On This Day
- 1666 – Great Fire of London ends: Ten thousand buildings, including Old St Paul’s Cathedral, are destroyed, but only six people are known to have died.
- 1972 – Munich massacre: A Palestinian terrorist group called “Black September” attacks and takes hostage 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympic Games. Two die in the attack and nine are murdered the following day.
- 1975 – Lynette Fromme attempts to assassinate U.S. President Gerald Ford.
- 1977 – Voyager Program: NASA launches the Voyager 1 spacecraft.
- 1548 – Catherine Parr, Sixth and last Queen of Henry VIII of England (b. c. 1512).
- 1877 – Crazy Horse, American tribal leader (b. 1849).
- 1982 – Douglas Bader, English captain and pilot (b. 1910).
- 1997 – Mother Teresa, Albanian-Indian nun, missionary, and saint (b. 1910).
Life is a Lottery
Margaret Loughrey, 56, from Ballycolman, Strabane, in Northern Ireland, was found dead on Thursday morning eight years after winning £27million on Euromillions. Margaret was unemployed and on her way home from the job centre when she bought a Euromillions ticket on a whim and ended up scooping the jackpot.
She checked and re-checked her numbers while pacing around her house for five hours the next day trying to process what had happened before calling her brother.
‘Maggie Millions’ went on to buy an old mill, as well as a pub and various homes, while also giving away half of her fortune to good causes. But her win also attracted the wrong sort of attention and she claims thieves stole millions from her, leaving her with just £5million by 2019.
Her mental and physical health also deteriorated, with her weight at one stage reportedly dropping to five-and-a-half stone. So it was no surprise to anyone when she was found dead at only 56 years of age.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland said it is not currently treating her death as “suspicious”, after her body was found at 10.30am in her home. A post mortem will be carried out to determine the cause of death, the force added.
“I regret winning the lottery, of course I do. I was a happy person before. I am a human being and all it has done is destroy my life,” Margaret once said during an interview.
Her problems began almost immediately after her landmark win which saw her scoop the biggest lottery fortune Northern Ireland had ever seen.
She was sectioned for four months in 2013 and later admitted to Sunday Life: “If there is a hell, I have been in it. It has been that bad.” She added: “I will never have peace as long as I live. Even if I didn’t have a penny left, I won’t.”
Spending her cash brought no end of trouble. Margaret splashed out £1million to buy the historic Herdman’s Mill in Sion Mills a year in but it was targeted by vandals and set on fire multiple times. She also continually locked horns with Sion Mills Cricket Club, eventually locking them out of their pitch on the grounds before an agreement was reached.
In 2015, she drunkenly assaulted a taxi driver as he took her home after a party, breaking his glasses and smashing his satnav. He drove her directly to a police station where she had to be physically restrained by officers, and was later ordered by magistrates to do 150 hours community service.
Last September an employment tribunal awarded her former general assistant, Patrick Breslin, £30,000 after it determined she had mocked his religion before sacking him.
Her latest business venture had seen Margaret buy her local pub The Greyhound Bar with plans to transform it into The Back Street Bar. She also intended to build 18 affordable homes on her own land, among a string of charitable donations running into the millions. But Margaret was never fulfilled.
“Money has brought me nothing but grief. It has destroyed my life,” she said a couple of years ago.
Local councillor Jason Barr told us this morning: “Margaret would have been well thought of…she has had her ups and downs in life like all of us but hopefully she’s at rest now.”
At the time of her win, Margaret said she’d gone to the job centre to print off an application for a job within the charity sector. Then, while heading home she’d gone into a Supervalu store and bought a lottery ticket. “I can’t always afford to do the Euromillions but I had a couple of extra pound in my purse and just on the spur of the moment I did a Lucky Dip,” she explained. At the time, Ms Loughrey was living on benefits of £62 a week.
Speaking about the moment she realised she had won the jackpot, Margaret said she’d got up early the next day and “just had this notion so I checked my numbers and there they were. I was just in state of shock and I must have checked 10 times. I took a walk out to the back garden and sat out there for a while before coming back in and checking again.” Eventually, she got her brother to verify the win.
The next time you’re in the shops, ignore the lotto station and save your money, it’ll only give you grief.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Michael Keaton (70), Carice van Houten (45), Raquel Welch (81), Rose McGowan (48), Bob Newhart (92), Paddy Considine (48), George Lazenby (82), Damon Wayans (61), Michael Berryman (73), Beyoncé (40), Charlie Sheen (56), Pauline Collins (81), Keanu Reeves (57), Salma Hayek (55), Keith Allen (68), Zendaya (25), Lily Tomlin (82), Burn Gorman (47), Gloria Estefan (64), Steve Pemberton (54), Barry Gibb (75), Richard Gere (72), Chris Tucker (50), Jessica Henwick (29), Cameron Diaz (49), and Michael Chiklis (58).
As pointed out in our Telegram group, it’s not a good week if you appeared on Gogglebox! They’ve been dropping like flies recently! Anyhow, we have points to dispense. Well done to Fiona, for correctly listing Charlie Watts, a nice 70 points awarded which pushes her towards the top end of the league table.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Brian Travers, 62, British saxophonist and songwriter (UB40), brain cancer.
- Mary Cook, 92, British reality television personality (Gogglebox).
- Andy Michael, 61, British reality television personality (Gogglebox).
- Terry Driver, 56, Canadian convicted murderer.
- Michael Nader, 76, American actor (Dynasty, All My Children, Lucky Chances), cancer.
- Charlie Watts, 80, English drummer (The Rolling Stones).
- Gunilla Bergström, 79, Swedish children’s book writer and illustrator (Alfie Atkins).
- Marcus Birks, 40, English Eurodance musician (Cappella), COVID-19.
In Other News
Igor Vovkovinskiy, the tallest man in the United States, has died in Minnesota. He was 38. His family said he died of heart disease on Friday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. His mother, Svetlana Vovkovinska, an ICU nurse at Mayo, initially posted about his death on Facebook. The Ukrainian-born Vovkovinskiy came to the Mayo Clinic in 1989 as a child seeking treatment. A tumour pressing against his pituitary gland caused it to secrete abnormal levels of growth hormone. He grew to become the tallest man in the U.S. at 7 feet, 8.33 inches and ended up staying in Rochester. His older brother, Oleh Ladan us that Vovkovinskiy was a celebrity when he arrived from Ukraine because of his size and the flickering Cold War of the late 1980s. But Ladan said Vovkovinskiy “would have rather lived a normal life than be known.” Vovkovinskiy appeared on “The Dr. Oz Show” and was called out by President Barack Obama during a campaign rally in 2009, when the president noticed him near the stage wearing a T-shirt that read, “World’s Biggest Obama Supporter.” In 2013, he carried the Ukrainian contestant onto the stage to perform in the Eurovision Song Contest.
Scottish comedian Sir Billy Connolly has given fans an update on his Parkinson’s battle, saying it’s “getting worse”. The comedian was speaking during a session at the Edinburgh TV Festival, which was honouring the 78-year-old with a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to the industry, when he made the confronting comments. Billy, who was diagnosed with the disease in 2013 and retired from standup comedy last year as a result, said filming for television is getting a lot harder. Speaking remotely from his Florida home, Billy said he was approaching the condition in the same way he always approached filming. “I hardly prepare,” he said. “I turn up unprepared and everything’s a new challenge.” Billy continued: “The challenges lately have been medical. They’re getting worse. You’ll notice I’ve been holding my left hand — it’s starting to jump around. I have to weigh it up and see how bad it gets.” Billy’s new comments come about eight months after he opened up about his condition and decision to retire. The comedian appeared in a touching ITV documentary titled Billy Connolly: It’s Been a Pleasure which paid tribute to his 50-year long career in the spotlight. But, perhaps one of the most touching moments of the evening was when the Scottish comedian emotionally admitted that Parkinson’s will eventually lead to his “end”, and that he’s accepted this. “It’s got me, it will get me and it will end me, but that’s okay with me,” Connolly said.
Italy’s former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi has been admitted to San Raffaele Hospital in Milan, according to our sources. A flying monkey quoted a member from Mr Berlusconi’s Forza Italia party who told it that the former PM went into hospital on Thursday evening for “a thorough clinical check-up”. The monkey gave no further details as to Mr Berlusconi’s condition. The 84-year-old billionaire businessman has been in and out of hospital since contracting coronavirus last September. He was treated for more than a week at San Raffaele after developing double pneumonia, an experience he described as the “worst of his life”. He was last hospitalised in May, when he spent five days at San Raffaele Hospital. Mr Berlusconi has faced a number of serious health issues in recent years. In 2016 he underwent major heart surgery to replace an aortic valve in 2016. He also has overcome prostate cancer and a series of other ailments. He has had a pacemaker for years. He has previously described his bout with coronavirus as “insidious,” calling it the most dangerous challenge he had ever faced.
And finally, the UK’s oldest man has said that his secret to a long life is having fish and chips for dinner every Friday. John Tinniswood, 109, celebrated his birthday earlier this month and shared some of his tips for living a full life. “Never exceed what you can normally do,” he told us. ‘Otherwise you’re going to injure yourself either physically or mentally. So stay within your limits of what you can do.’ When asked if he had any further words of wisdom for a long life, he replied that would be “impudent” and that we should “let each do as they want”. When asked about the future, he replied: “The future holds what it does – you can’t do very much about it.” To mark his birthday, Mr Tinniswood received a telegram from the Queen – the ninth one he has received since turning 100. Upon receiving the card, he teased that he could “get a couple of hundred quid for this” and asked “she hasn’t put her phone number, has she?” Mr Tinniswood was previously married, having tied the knot with his wife, Blodwen, in 1942. They had one daughter together, Susan, in 1943 and were married for 44 years before Blodwen died in 1986. The UK’s oldest man on record, Henry Allingham, died at the age of 113 in 2009. The oldest woman in the UK on record was Charlotte Hughes, who passed away in 1993 at the age of 115.
On This Day
- 708 – Copper coins are minted in Japan for the first time.
- 1949 – The Soviet Union tests its first atomic bomb, known as First Lightning or Joe 1, at Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan.
- 1997 – Netflix is launched as an internet DVD rental service.
- 2005 – Hurricane Katrina devastates much of the U.S. Gulf Coast from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, killing up to 1,836 people and causing $125 billion in damage.
- 1930 – William Archibald Spooner, English priest and author (b. 1844).
- 1982 – Ingrid Bergman, Swedish actress (b. 1915).
- 1987 – Lee Marvin, American actor (b. 1924).
- 2016 – Gene Wilder, American stage and screen comic actor, screenwriter, film director, and author (b. 1933).
Not all Canadians are nice!
On 13th October 1995, 16-year-olds Misty Cockerill and Tanya Smith were walking to a party when Driver broke through a hedge nearby with a baseball bat and ordered the girls to go through the bush. After stumbling into a clearing, Driver told both girls to remove their clothes. While Smith complied, Cockerill attempted to fight back, grabbing the bat and hitting Driver across the back as he prepared to rape Smith. Driver eventually overpowered Cockerill and beat her into unconsciousness. Cockerill regained consciousness in a parking lot and walked to the hospital, where she was immediately rushed into surgery for severe skull fractures and survived. Later that morning, Smith’s badly beaten body was found in a river where she drowned, in addition to unsurvivable traumatic injuries.
After the attack, Driver engaged in a course of bizarre behaviour that eventually led to his capture. He made a series of telephone calls to police and emergency services in which he refused to give his name, but clearly identified himself as the killer, and threatened more crimes. Driver, whose father had been a police officer, had an obsession with scanners, and used one to monitor police responses to his telephone calls. He attended the funeral of Tanya Smith, and then later stole her tombstone, wrote a threatening message to Cockerill on it, and then put it on the hood of a car belonging to a radio station. He also threw a wrench with a note to police through a stranger’s front window. The note mentioned three other similar assaults for which he sought credit. He had left a thumbprint on some tape around the package, and he had left DNA on the body. Police arranged for the broadcast of recordings of the telephone calls, and Driver’s brother recognised his voice. His mother concurred in the identification. Police determined that Driver’s thumbprint matched the one on the tape, and he was arrested in 1996.
After his arrest, Driver denied that he had beaten the two girls. He claimed he had happened upon them after the crime, raped the unconscious Tanya, and thrown her body in the river. He claimed he had driven Misty to the hospital. At trial, he did not raise an insanity defence, but claimed he had Tourette’s syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder and attention deficit disorder, and urged these impairments be considered to explain his actions. He used this argument to explain that the confessions he gave were false and the product of his disorders. Because of the emotional response that was inevitable in a trial, Driver elected to be tried in front of a judge instead of a jury. The judge was unpersuaded by Driver’s arguments and he was convicted in 1997 of the first-degree murder of Tanya Smith and the attempted murder of Misty Cockerill, declared a dangerous offender, and received a mandatory life sentence from Judge Wally Oppal. He appealed, but, in 2001, lost.
In a later trial, Driver was convicted of two of the assaults he mentioned in the letter that he threw through the window.
In 2006, Driver was transferred from protective custody at Kent Institution to the Pacific Institution/Regional Treatment Centre in Abbotsford for treatment. Corrections Canada came under criticism for this move.
Driver died in prison last week on 23rd August 2021.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Carla Gugino (50), Emily Hampshire (40), Rebecca De Mornay (62), Elliott Gould (83), Lenny Henry (63), Jack Black (52), Brian Thompson (62), Billy Boyd (53), David Soul (78), Shania Twain (56), Aaron Paul (42), Peter Stormare (68), Peter Mensah (62), Barbara Bach (74), Reece Shearsmith (52), Melissa McCarthy (51), Chris Pine (41), Macaulay Culkin (41), Alexander Skarsgård (45), Joanne Whalley (60), Blake Lively (34), Tim Burton (63), Tom Skerritt (88), Gene Simmons (72), Billy Ray Cyrus (60), Claudia Schiffer (51), Jared Harris (60), Rupert Grint (33), Steve Guttenberg (63), Stephen Fry (64), Ray Park (47), and Charley Boorman (55).
Those evil flying monkeys have been busy this week although none of us scored a single point. But one of last weeks deaths has made me rather hesitant to send out the little buggers once again, just in case!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Sean Lock, 58, English comedian (15 Storeys High, 8 Out of 10 Cats, 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown), cancer.
- Jill Murphy, 72, British author (The Worst Witch), cancer.
- Austin Mitchell, 86, British politician, MP (1977–2015).
- Sonny Chiba, 82, Japanese actor (The Street Fighter, The Storm Riders, Kill Bill: Volume 1) and martial artist, complications from Covid-19.
- Don Everly, 84, American singer (The Everly Brothers) and songwriter (“Cathy’s Clown“, “When Will I Be Loved“).
- Marie, Princess of Liechtenstein, 81, Liechtensteiner royal, princess consort, stroke.
In Other News
This weeks shocking news is that of the tragic death of comedian Sean Lock; sometimes we wish those evil flying monkeys would miss their mark or maybe get shot down by a local farmer! The comedian’s family confirmed his passing earlier this week at the relatively young age of 58 and his friend and fellow comedian Bill Bailey has now revealed that Sean passed away after a secret battle with lung cancer, which he was diagnosed with a “few years ago”. Bill told us: “He had been diagnosed with lung cancer a few years ago and it was at the time quite a blow, particularly when it was quite advanced. We’ve tried to make the most of the last few years. We spent a lot of time together and went on trips together. And he’s continued to work. He’s amazingly courageous and tough individual who was mentally strong throughout the whole time. I’m just grateful for the time we have had together.” Sean has received many glowing tributes from those on the comedy circuit and Bill is hardly surprised as he praised his late friend’s fearless nature and “determination”.
The world’s smallest cow ‘Rani’ died on Thursday due to ‘excessive gas accumulated in its stomach’. Sajedul Islam, livestock officer of Savar, Bangladesh, confirmed the death to us. “The cow fell ill two days ago. It was taken to Savar Upazila health centre at around 11am and the on-duty doctor declared it dead at 12pm,” he said. The dwarf cow of the Boxer Bhutti breed, grew up in a farm at Charigram of Savar, near the capital Dhaka. The cow stood just 51cm (20in) high, and weighed 28kg (62Ib), just enough for 30 Big Mac’s. At the time it was waiting to be recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s smallest cow. The cow turned into a celebrity since the news first broke in the Bangladeshi newspapers back in July and hundreds of visitors had been flocking to the farm to catch a sight of it. The title for the world’s smallest cow has been held officially by Manikyam, in neighbouring India, which measures 61.1cm from the hoof to the withers.
If you thought Covid has gone away, fear not, it’s still with us and bringing down many a celebrity. Slipknot and Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor has said that he is “very sick” after testing positive for coronavirus. The 47-year-old – who is currently in the middle of a North American tour of his solo album CMFT – was forced to cancel his scheduled appearance at the Astronomican event in Ann Arbor, Michigan on Friday after testing positive for Covid-19. Taylor shared a video to Facebook addressing his absence, stating: “I hope everybody’s well, I wish I had better news. I woke up today and tested positive, and I’m very, very sick.” He apologised to fans, adding that he is “absolutely devastated” and that he hopes “everyone has a good time”. Speaking about his health, the heavy metal rocker said: “I should be okay. It’s just the flu. I’m vaccinated so I’m not worried but I certainly would not want to spread it to anyone else, so everybody be safe out there. I will see you again, promise,” he said. Taylor recently spoke out against concertgoers who refuse to get vaccinated, stating: “People act like getting a vaccine is signing a deal with the devil. It’s been so politicised and spun out of control in these conspiratorial echo chambers that people forget that you can find all the info you want online to educate yourself about everything about these vaccines.” Taylor continued: “Do I think it should be a requirement for people to be vaccinated to go to shows? Yes and no. Here’s the thing: there shouldn’t be mandate, but guess what man, if you’re going to put people at risk of getting sick, you shouldn’t want to go to a show. And if you do put people at risk, then you’re a fucking asshole, and you shouldn’t be let in anyway,” he concluded.
On the flip side of the above story, a conservative US talk radio host and vaccine skeptic has died in hospital from complications related to a Covid-19 that he contracted last month. Radio personality Phil Valentine’s death was announced in a tweet on Saturday by Nashville radio station SuperTalk 99.7 WTN. “We are saddened to report that our host and friend Phil Valentine has passed away. Please keep the Valentine family in your thoughts and Prayers,” the station said. Mr Valentine, who had been skeptical of coronavirus vaccines and mask wearing, was 61 when he died. Last December, Mr Valentine wrote in his blog: “I’m not an anti-vaxxer. I’m just using common sense. What are my odds of getting Covid? They’re pretty low. What are my odds of dying from Covid if I do get it? Probably way less than one percent”. But on 11th July, Mr Valentine reported that he had tested positive for the virus. Shortly afterwards, he told his listeners: “If I get this Covid thing, do I have a chance of dying from it?”. Now urging people to get vaccinated, he added that he had chosen not to get the vaccine because he thought that he probably wouldn’t die. Later in July, Mr Valentine was hospitalised for Covid-related pneumonia, and near the end of the month he was moved into a critical care unit where he was placed on a ventilator. Mark Valentine, Phil’s brother, said that his brother regretted not being a “more vocal advocate of the vaccination”. He told us: “I know if he were able to tell you this, he would tell you, ‘Go get vaccinated. Quit worrying about the politics. Quit worrying about all the conspiracy theories”. “He regrets not being more adamant about getting the vaccine. Look at the data.” Mr Valentine’s family also issued a statement after the radio host was hospitalised. The statement said: “Phil would like for his listeners to know that while he has never been an ‘anti-vaxxer’ he regrets not being more vehemently ‘pro-vaccine’ and looks forward to being able to more vigourously advocate for that position as soon as he is back on the air, which we all hope will be soon.” As of Saturday 21st August, there have been 977,230 Covid infections and 12,142 related deaths reported in Tennessee alone. Only 41 per cent of the population is fully vaccinated, and 48 per cent have received at least one dose of a Covid vaccine.
Tributes have been paid to the inventor of the Pornstar Martini after he died at the age of 51. Douglas Ankrah, who also co-founded the groundbreaking London cocktail bar ‘Lab’, was dubbed an industry ‘pioneer’. His family shared the news on social media as tributes poured in from across the industry. His cause of death has not been confirmed though the trade outlet Master of Malt reports Ankrah had a history of heart problems and ‘went peacefully in his sleep’. The Ghanaian-born entrepreneur invented the Pornstar Martini in 2003 while he was working at his cocktail bar Townhouse, in Knightsbridge, west London. The cocktail features a mix of vanilla vodka, fresh passion fruit, passion fruit liqueur, vanilla syrup and lime juice, plus a shot of Prosecco on the side. Since its creation, the Pornstar Martini has regularly featured in top cocktail lists and was this month revealed as the World’s most popular cocktail, based on Google search data. Ankrah is said to have come up with the name after a trip to a gentlemen’s club in Cape Town, telling Master of Malt in 2019: ‘The cocktail was so sexy and looked like what a pornstar would drink.’ He added: ‘When I first made it, I had no idea it was going to be neo classic’, but he later created a bottled version, because he was fed up of tasting badly-made versions of his tipple.
On This Day
- 1485 – The Battle of Bosworth Field, the death of Richard III and the end of the House of Plantagenet.
- 1922 – Michael Collins, Commander-in-chief of the Irish Free State Army, is shot dead in an ambush during the Irish Civil War.
- 2006 – Grigori Perelman is awarded the Fields Medal for his proof of the Poincaré conjecture in mathematics but refuses to accept the medal.
- 1485 – Richard III of England (b. 1452).
- 1922 – Michael Collins, Irish rebel, counter-intelligence and military tactician, and politician; 2nd Irish Minister of Finance (b. 1890).
- 1963 – William Morris, 1st Viscount Nuffield, English businessman and philanthropist, founded Morris Motors (b. 1877).
The 2014 Taipei Metro attack was a mass stabbing spree that took place on 21st May 2014, directed at random civilians on a Taipei Metro train near Jiangzicui Station, resulting in four deaths and 24 injuries. It was the first fatal attack on the city’s subway system since operations began in 1996. The suspected attacker, Cheng Chieh, then 21, was arrested after the attack.
The attack started at around 16:25 local time, inside a Bannan Line train heading west between Longshan Temple Station in Taipei and Jiangzicui Station in New Taipei. The distance between the two stations is the longest between any two stations in the Taipei metro system, lasting three to five minutes. During the attack, the assailant chased and hacked passengers with a 30cm long fruit knife. Before the train could stop at Jiangzicui Station, a group of passengers banded together to distance themselves using umbrellas while others tried to discourage the attacker by loudly taunting him.
When the subway train arrived at Jiangzicui Station, a single suspected assailant was subdued by passengers, police and metro staff and taken to the nearby Haishan police station after a brief standoff. Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-pin said police presence on the metro was increased soon after the incident and added that he was requesting reinforcements from the National Police Agency.
On the day after the attack, the suspect was taken to the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office for questioning. A prosecutor applied to detain him in the New Taipei District Court, which was approved by a judge around 6:20am.
The train carriage which was the setting of the stabbing attack, was temporarily withdrawn from service after arrival at Jiangzicui Station and underwent disinfection and change of seats. It was then renumbered 175/176 (173/174 was avoided as the number “一七三, 一七四” sounded like “一起殺、一起死”, which literally means “kill together, die together”) and returned to service in 2015.
New Taipei Police Chief Chen Kuo-en identified the suspected attacker as Cheng Chieh, a 21-year-old second-year student at Tunghai University in the central city of Taichung. Chief Chen said the suspect told police he had wanted to do something “shocking and big” and had plotted to carry out the attack from childhood. Chen said there was no other motive.
During questioning, the suspect said he originally intended to attack after his college graduation, but decided to move earlier since he had “no classes” on 21st May and he had grown tired of living. The suspect stated that he does not admit guilt, feels no regret, wants the death sentence, and that even if his parents were on the train he attacked, he would have killed them, as well as the prosecutors questioning him.
Cheng Chieh’s parents later publicly apologised at Jiangzicui Station and called for a quick death sentence for their son.
Cheng was indicted by the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office on 21st July, and charged with four counts of murder and 22 counts of attempted murder. The Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation, the company that runs the Taipei Metro, claimed that ridership was down by 945,000 within ten days of Cheng’s actions, causing them to lose NT$20.61 million, an amount for which they are suing Cheng.
Cheng was found guilty of four counts of murder and 22 counts of attempted manslaughter on 6th March 2015 in the Taiwan New Taipei District Court. For each count of murder, he was sentenced to death and deprivation of citizen’s rights for life; for each count of attempted manslaughter, he was sentenced to a jail term of between five years, two months and eight years. His knife was also confiscated.
Justice Minister Luo Ying-shay signed the execution order for Cheng at 17:00 on 10th May 2016. Cheng was executed at 20:47 on the same day. After eating his last meal, a biandang with stewed pork, rice and vegetables, Cheng was given general anaesthesia. Soon after its administration, he was laid in a prone position and shot in the heart three times. The 18-day gap between Cheng’s final guilty verdict and execution was the shortest in Taiwanese judicial history.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Richard Armitage (50), Kristen Wiig (48), Ty Burrell (54), James (The Cunt) Corden (43), Dua Lipa (26), Mark Williams (62), Carrie-Anne Moss (54), Laura Haddock (36), Hayden Panettiere (32), Kim Cattrall (65), RJ Mitte (29), Amy Adams (46), Ben Barnes (40), Andrew Garfield (38), Ke Huy Quan (50), James Marsters (59), Misha Collins (47), John Noble (73), Ray Wise (74), Sylvester McCoy (78), Demi Lovato (29), David Walliams (50), Matthew Perry (52), Jonathan Frakes (69), Jim Carter (73), Diana Muldaur (83), Jill St. John (81), Simon Bird (37), Edward Norton (52), Christian Slater (52), Robert Redford (85), Madeleine Stowe (63), Roman Polanski (88), Denis Leary (64), Robert De Niro (78), Sean Penn (61), Belinda Carlisle (63), Taika Waititi (46), Steve Carell (59), James Cameron (67), and Madonna (63).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Jane Withers, 95, American actress (Giant, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Paddy O’Day).
- Alex Cord, 88, American actor (Airwolf, Stagecoach, The Brotherhood).
- Pat Hitchcock, 93, English-born American actress (Stage Fright, Strangers on a Train, Psycho).
- Ken Hutchison, 72, Scottish actor (Straw Dogs, All Quiet on the Western Front, Ladyhawke).
- Dilys Watling, 78, English actress (Calculated Risk, Two Left Feet, Theatre of Death).
- Una Stubbs, 84, English actress (Till Death Us Do Part, Worzel Gummidge, Sherlock).
- Steve Perrin, 75, American game designer (RuneQuest), technical writer and editor.
- Gerd Müller, 75, German footballer (1861 Nördlingen, Bayern Munich, West Germany national team), world champion (1974).
In Other News
An envelope containing three bullets and addressed to Pope Francis has been found near Milan. Authorities are now investigating the source of the envelope and who could be behind it, according to Italian paramilitary police. It was sent from France and intercepted by postal employees working on sorting the mail overnight in the small sorting facility of Peschiera Borromeo in a Milan suburb, the carabinieri provincial command in Milan said. It reportedly contained three 9mm-calibre Flobert-type pellets, according to the Milan-based newspaper Affaritaliani. The envelope was addressed by hand in pen to: “The Pope, Vatican City, St. Peter’s Square, Rome,” and contained a message referring to financial operations at the Vatican, but further details were not disclosed. Last month, the Vatican indicted ten people, including an Italian cardinal, for several alleged financial crimes, including extortion, corruption, fraud, embezzlement, and abuse of power. The accusations included bleeding the Holy See of tens of millions of dollars in donations through bad investments, deals with shady money managers and apparent favours to friends and family. An investigation is ongoing by the carabinieri investigative unit after the command office in Milan has been notified about the envelope by the sorting centre manager, according to the Italian newspaper. There was no immediate comment from the Vatican. The 84-year-old pontiff had colon surgery last month. The Vatican declared after the surgery that the Pope had responded well to the treatment for “symptomatic diverticular stenosis” of the colon. Since then, he returned to his full-time duties.
A prisoner in Washington state has been jailed for almost 25 years after unexpectedly being placed in the same cell as the man who raped his younger sister. As he spoke to his new cellmate in June 2020, Shane Goldsby, 26, grew certain that Robert Munger, 70, was the man who had repeatedly raped his underage sister. In an interview last year Goldsby said he requested to be assigned to a new cell, but he was never transferred. The inmate said Munger then described how he had violated his sister in detail. Munger had been sentenced to 43 years in prison for child molestation and possession of child pornography. “He kept… giving me details about what happened and what he did. About the photos and videos of him doing this stuff, and it was building up,” Goldsby said. The chance meeting behind bars took place at the Airway Heights Corrections Center in Spokane County in eastern Washington state. Hours later, Goldsby snuck up behind Munger in the common area and knocked him to the floor, punched him fourteen times and stomped on his head over and over, a Washington State Patrol investigation said. Munger died in hospital days later. Pleading guilty to second-degree murder, Goldsby was sentenced to 298 months in prison, which is just under 25 years. At a hearing last week, Goldsby’s lawyer read a statement on his client’s behalf: “I’m ashamed of my actions, I was put into a situation that I don’t wish on nobody. I got a lot of fixing to do.” Questions are now being asked about why Goldsby was put in the same cell as his sister’s rapist. “This stuff doesn’t happen. You’re talking the same institution, the same unit, the same pod in the same cell as this dude. That’s like hitting the jackpot in the casino seven times.” But the Washington State Patrol investigation found that protocols were followed and that “there is no evidence suggesting screening staff should have known about the conflict between Goldsby and Munger”. The report says part of the reasoning was that Goldsby and his sister don’t share the same last name. It also states that Goldsby made no attempt to be transferred out of the cell. Perhaps someone thought some swift justice was in order….
Tony Bennett has announced the cancellation of all his tour dates through the autumn and winter of 2021. The 95-year-old singer had scheduled concerts in states across the US, including New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Arizona and Oklahoma, as well as Canada. Speaking to Variety, Bennett’s son and manager Danny said: “There won’t be any additional concerts. This was a hard decision for us to make, as he is a capable performer. This is, however, doctors’ orders.” He added: “His continued health is the most important part of this. It’s not the singing aspect but, rather, the traveling.” Earlier this year, Bennett publicly confirmed he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease back in 2016. The musician had continued to perform, however, and last week sung at New York’s Radio City for a two-night stint with Lady Gaga. The concerts were filmed, with the recordings to be released at a later date. Bennett and Gaga also recently announced that they would be releasing a new album together, entitled Love for Sale. The forthcoming record follows a similar collaboration between the pair on the 2014 duet release Cheek to Cheek.
Christina Applegate revealed on August 10 that she has been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. The 49-year-old actress wrote on Twitter that she received her diagnosis “months ago,” calling her experience thus far a “strange journey” and “a tough road.” She also touched on her experience with the MS community, saying she’s been “so supported by people that who also have this condition.” One such supporter is actress Selma Blair — who was diagnosed with MS herself in 2017 and has shared many of her own experiences on social media and elsewhere. Blair tweeted, “Loving you always,” to Applegate after Applegate announced her diagnosis. In a second tweet, Applegate asked for privacy as she deals with her condition. In describing her health journey, she quoted a friend of hers who also has MS: “We wake up and take the indicated action.” Applegate faced another significant health issue in 2008, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy, or surgery to remove both breasts. Her experience with breast cancer makes an appearance in the Netflix series Dead to Me, in which Applegate stars. She plays the role of Jen Harding, who has a preventive double mastectomy after her mother dies of breast cancer.
On This Day
- 1914 – A servant of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright murders seven people and sets fire to the living quarters of Wright’s Wisconsin home, Taliesin.
- 1939 – The Wizard of Oz premieres at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
- 1941 – Corporal Josef Jakobs is executed by firing squad at the Tower of London at 07:12, making him the last person to be executed at the Tower for espionage.
- 1947 – India gains Independence from British rule after near 190 years of British company and crown rule, and joins the Commonwealth of Nations.
- 1952 – A flash flood drenches the town of Lynmouth, England, killing 34 people.
- 1963 – Execution of Henry John Burnett, the last man to be hanged in Scotland.
- 1969 – The Woodstock Music & Art Fair opens in upstate New York, featuring some of the top rock musicians of the era.
- 1977 – The Big Ear, a radio telescope operated by Ohio State University as part of the SETI project, receives a radio signal from deep space; the event is named the “Wow! signal” from the notation made by a volunteer on the project.
- 1998 – The Troubles: The Omagh bombing takes place; 29 people (including a woman pregnant with twins) killed and some 220 others injured.
- 1057 – Macbeth, King of Scotland (b. 1005)
- 1967 – René Magritte, Belgian painter (b. 1898)
- 2020 – Robert Trump, American real-estate developer, business executive (b. 1948)
The Last Execution in The Tower of London
Josef Jakobs was a German spy and the last person to be executed at the Tower of London. He was captured shortly after parachuting into the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Convicted of espionage under the Treachery Act 1940, Jakobs was shot by a military firing squad. He was not hanged because he was captured as an enemy combatant.
Jakobs, who was a German citizen, was born in Luxembourg in 1898. During the First World War, he served in the German infantry, rising to the rank of Leutnant, in the 4th Foot Guards. In June 1940, ten months after the outbreak of the Second World War, Jakobs was drafted into the Wehrmacht as an Oberleutnant. However, when it was discovered that he had been imprisoned in Switzerland from 1934–37 for selling counterfeit gold, he was forced to resign his commission in the Wehrmacht. Jakobs was demoted to a Feldwebel and placed in the Meteorologischen Dienst (meteorological service) of the German Army. Shortly afterwards, he also began working for the Abwehr, the intelligence department of the German Army.
On 31st January 1941, Jakobs was flown from Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands to Ramsey in Huntingdonshire. He parachuted from the aircraft and landed in a field near Dove House Farm, but broke his ankle during the process. The following morning, Jakobs attracted the attention of two farmers, Charles Baldock and Harry Coulson, by firing his pistol into the air. Baldock and Coulson notified members of the local Home Guard, who quickly apprehended Jakobs. He was caught still wearing his flying suit and carrying £500 in British currency, forged identity papers, a radio transmitter and a German sausage.
On his person was also found a photo purportedly of his lover, a German cabaret singer and actress named Clara Bauerle, who became a spy because she had spent a few years performing in the West Midlands and could speak English with a Birmingham accent. Jakobs said Bauerle was meant to join him after he had made “radio contact,” but then doubted she would now be sent since he was arrested before he could communicate with his team. Bauerle’s whereabouts remained unknown for several decades, and it was theorised that she may have died under suspicious circumstances in England. In 2016, it was discovered that Bauerle had died in a Berlin hospital on 16th December 1942.
Jakobs was taken to Ramsey Police Station before being transferred to Cannon Row Police Station in London, where he gave a voluntary statement to Major T.A. Robertson of MI5. Due to the poor condition of his ankle, Jakobs was transferred to Brixton Prison Infirmary for the night. The following day he was briefly interrogated by Lieutenant Colonel Stephens of MI5 at Camp 020 before being transferred to Dulwich Hospital where he remained for the next two months.
Jakobs’ court martial took place in front of a military tribunal at the Duke of York’s Headquarters in Chelsea, London SW3, on 4–5th August 1941. The trial was held in camera because the German agent had been apprehended in a highly classified intelligence operation known as the Double Cross System. The British were aware that Jakobs was coming because his arrival information had been passed on to MI5 by the Welsh nationalist and Abwehr double agent Arthur Owens. After a two-day trial which involved hearing the testimony of eight witnesses, Jakobs was found guilty of spying and sentenced to death.
Jakobs’s execution took place at the miniature rifle range in the grounds of the Tower of London on 15th August 1941. He was tied and blindfolded in a brown Windsor chair. Eight soldiers from the Holding battalion of the Scots Guards, armed with .303 Lee–Enfields, took aim at a white cotton target, about matchbook size, pinned over Jakobs’ heart. The squad fired in unison at 7:12 a.m. after being given a silent signal from Lieutenant-Colonel C.R. Gerard (Deputy Provost Marshal for London District). Jakobs died instantly. A postmortem examination found that one bullet had hit Jakobs in the heart and the other four had been on or around the marked target area. As three members of the eight-man firing squad had been issued with blanks, only five live rounds were used.
He was the last person to be executed at the Tower of London.
Following the execution, Jakobs’ body was buried in an unmarked grave at St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery, Kensal Green, London. The location used for Jakobs’ grave has since been re-used, so the original grave site is difficult to find.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Ben Affleck (49), Jennifer Lawrence (31), Natasha Henstridge (47), Debra Messing (53), Joe Jonas (32), Jim Dale (86), Tony Robinson (75), Mila Kunis (38), Steve Martin (76), Halle Berry (55), James Buckley (34), Joseph Marcell (73), Sebastian Stan (39), John Slattery (59), Cara Delevingne (29), Jim Beaver (71), Chris Hemsworth (38), Anna Gunn (53), Ian McDiarmid (77), Hulk Hogan (68), Antonio Banderas (61), Rosanna Arquette (62), Anna Kendrick (36), Ashley Johnson (38), Sam Elliott (77), Dan Levy (38), Gillian Anderson (53), Rhona Mitra (45), Eric Bana (53), Melanie Griffith (64), and Audrey Tautou (45).
Welcome to the ‘spot the celebrity edition’ of the Dead Pool Newsletter! Yup, some fairly unknown ‘stars’ have died this week, looks like this week is historically a quiet week too. Anyhow, plenty to read, and an Olympic special at the end too, as I like to be on point sometimes.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Bobby Eaton, 62, American professional wrestler (JCP, WCW, SMW).
- Terry Davies, 87, Welsh rugby union player (Swansea, British and Irish Lions, national team).
- Reg Gorman, 89, Australian actor (The Sullivans, Fergus McPhail, Neighbours), cancer.
- Brad Allan, 48, Australian martial artist, action choreographer, and stunt performer (Rush Hour 2, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Solo: A Star Wars Story).
- Markie Post, 70, American actress (Night Court, The Fall Guy, Hearts Afire), cancer.
- Dennis Thomas, 70, American saxophonist (Kool & the Gang).
- Carolyn S. Shoemaker, 92, American astronomer, co-discoverer of Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9.
In Other News
Kathy Griffin has revealed she has cancer and is about to have half of her left lung removed. The American comedian made the announcement on Twitter on Monday. Griffin told her followers that doctors are “optimistic” the surgery will be a success as she was diagnosed with stage one cancer, which was “contained” to her left lung. “Yes, I have lung cancer even though I’ve never smoked!” she wrote. “Hopefully no chemo or radiation after this and I should have normal function with my breathing.” Griffin said that she “should be up and running around as usual in a month or less”, assuring her fans she is “gonna be just fine”. The actor and TV personality also said she was “fully vaccinated for Covid”, adding: “The consequences for being unvaccinated would have been even more serious.” She told her fans to “stay up to date” on medical checks as doing this “saved” her life. Following her announcement, Griffin’s fans sent love and best wishes to the comedian. Griffin’s comedy career began in the late 1980s, when she joined the Los Angeles improvisational troupe The Groundlings. She has led numerous standup specials for HBO and Bravo. Following her 16th special for bravo, she broke the world record for having the most number of television specials broadcast on a single network.
Former My 600lb Life star and TikTok dancer Gina Marie Krasley has died at the age of 30. The sad news was confirmed by her family, who shared that she died at her home in Tuckerton, New Jersey on August 1st. Their tribute went on to share her love of dancing and made reference to a movie role from when she was younger, but there was no mention of her time on the TLC reality show. It continued: ‘Born in Galloway, NJ, Gina has been a lifelong resident of Ocean County, living in Forked River, Barnegat and Tuckerton for the last 6 years. Her greatest passion was dancing and she would make up dances with her sister and kids in the neighbourhood growing up. She started the “dancing has no size limit” TikTok trend and she dreamed of one day opening up a dance studio for special needs children. Gina once appeared in a movie when she was younger called Walking to the Waterline and she enjoyed playing video games and spending time with her family.’ Her cause of death has not been shared. Krasley’s popularity on TikTok saw her amass over 200,000 followers on the video clip sharing platform, where she shared her dancing videos. According to reports, her death came just weeks after she revealed she was struggling with an unidentified illness that had left her fingers numb and her legs in pain, rendering her immobile. Krasely appeared on season eight of My 600lb Life, with her episode airing last January, as she sought help from bariatric doctor Younan Nowzaradan at his Texas clinic. During the show, she revealed that she had turned to comfort eating after struggling with the attention her older sister Ali received when she was diagnosed with agoraphobia at the age of 11. Krasely was seven-years-old at that time and by early high school weighed more than 300lbs, before later reaching over 600lbs.
Hugh Jackman, 52, took to social media to share a health update earlier this week. The Wolverine actor admitted he has had yet another skin biopsy after a cancer scan as he urged his followers to be vigilant. Posting a video on Twitter to his 14.5 million followers, Hugh shared the news. In the short clip, he could be seen wearing a mask which he then pulled down to show a plaster on his nose. He said: “Hey guys, I just want to let you know, I just went to see Lisa and Trevor, my amazing dermatologists and doctors. They saw something that was a little irregular, so they took a biopsy and they’re getting it checked. So if you see a shot of me with this on, do not freak out. Thanks for being concerned, I’ll let you know what’s going on. But they think it’s probably fine.” He then added: “Just remember, go get it checked and wear sunscreen. Hugh has previously undergone treatment for basal cell carcinoma in 2017. Basal cell carcinoma is the most common form of skin cancer and arises from the abnormal, uncontrolled growth of basal cells.
The Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts has had to undergo a procedure this week which was “completely successful”, but has unfortunately left him unable to take part in the band’s upcoming tour in America. The musician, who turned 80 in June, stepped down on the advice of his doctors, revealing that his recuperation may “take a while”. In order to avoid delaying the tour any further, Charlie has asked musician Steve Jordan to replace him. “For once, my timing has been a little off,” Charlie said of the disappointing news. Earlier this morning, the band announced that the tour, which was previously postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, will still go ahead. Their official Twitter account wished Charlie a “speedy recovery” and shared further details. “We’re sure you’ll all join us in wishing Charlie a speedy recovery,” the band tweeted, in view of their 3.4 million followers. All 2021 tour dates will go ahead as planned,” the caption continued alongside a statement. “Charlie has had a procedure this week which was completely successful, but I gather his doctors this week concluded that he now needs proper rest and recuperation. With rehearsals starting in a couple of weeks it’s very disappointing to say the least, but it’s also fair to say no one saw this coming,” a spokesman for the drummer said. Charlie added: “I am working hard to get fully fit but I have today accepted on the advice of the experts that this will take a while.
Val Kilmer’s children have given an update on their father’s recovery from throat cancer, calling the process ‘gruelling’. The 61-year-old actor was diagnosed with stage four cancer in 2015, after a tumour burst, and later got two tracheotomies, which affect his ability to speak clearly. In 2017, Kilmer said he had experienced ‘a healing of cancer’, and last year shared that he had been cancer-free for four years after his tracheotomies and chemotherapy. His children Mercedes and Jack appeared on TV to promote their dad’s new documentary Val, and shared that the Top Gun star is recovering well. Mercedes, 29, said: ‘He’s doing well. He’s still recovering. The recovery process is just as gruelling as the actual disease.’ When asked who had been supporting Kilmer throughout his illness, Jack, 26, said: ‘Everyone has been so supportive; it makes me so emotional. It’s really beautiful to see people come together.’ Mercedes and Jack, who Kilmer shares with his ex-wife Joanne Whalley, have been promoting the Amazon Prime Video movie Val on behalf of their father, saying their dad was at the premiere ‘in spirit’. The movie follows the personal and professional life of Kilmer through hundreds of hours of home movies and footage, which the star recorded over the years. Mercedes said: ‘He always has been ahead of the curve. He’s always had this need to document things. My dad’s been making this movie for 50 years.’ Kilmer is heard using a voice box to speak in the movie, with the Batman Forever star admitting: ‘I’m still recovering, and it’s difficult to talk and be understood.’
On This Day
- 1908 – Wilbur Wright makes his first flight at a racecourse at Le Mans, France. It is the Wright Brothers’ first public flight.
- 1963 – Great Train Robbery: In England, a gang of 15 train robbers steal £2.6 million in bank notes.
- 1969 – At a zebra crossing in London, photographer Iain Macmillan takes the iconic photo that becomes the cover image of the Beatles’ album Abbey Road.
- 1974 – President Richard Nixon, in a nationwide television address, announces his resignation from the office of the President of the United States effective noon the next day.
- 1988 – Alan Napier, English actor (b. 1903)
- 2004 – Fay Wray, Canadian-American actress (b. 1907)
- 2017 – Glen Campbell, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor (b. 1936)
The Deadly Olympics
At the modern Olympic Games, up to and including the 2016 Summer Paralympics, 10 athletes have died while either competing in or practicing their sport. In addition, another 14 participants have died at the Olympics from other causes; 11 of these deaths resulted from the Munich massacre of 1972.
Several incidents related to the Olympics have caused the death of non-participants. Large numbers were killed during the Lima football riot of 1964 and the Tlatelolco massacre in Mexico City in 1968. The Centennial Olympic Park bombing at the 1996 Games caused two deaths.
However, only three competitors have actually died during their event.
- Francisco Lázaro (21), Portugal – Runner – 1912, Stockholm – electrolyte imbalance/overheating. Like all the Olympic athletes of his time, Lázaro was an amateur sportsman, and his actual job was as a carpenter in an automobile factory in Lisbon. Lázaro was the first athlete to die during a modern Olympic event, after collapsing at the 30-kilometer mark (19 miles) of the marathon with a body temperature of 41 °C. The cause of death was initially thought to be severe dehydration due to the high temperature registered at the time of the race. Later it was discovered that Lázaro had covered large portions of his body with suet to prevent sunburn and to help with speed and lightness while running; but eventually the wax restricted the athlete’s natural perspiration, leading to a fatal body fluid electrolytic imbalance. Before the race, he had supposedly said: “Either I win or I die.”
- Knud Enemark Jensen (23), Denmark – Cyclist – 1960, Rome – heat stroke. One of the four-man Danish team, Jorgen B. Jorgensen, dropped out of the race due to sunstroke after the first lap, necessitating that all three remaining Danish cyclists finish the race for the team not to be disqualified. Jensen told his teammates that he felt dizzy. Niels Baunsøe clutched his jersey, keeping him from falling, while Vagn Bangsborg held Jensen from the other side. Bangsborg sprayed Jensen with water, leading to an apparent improvement, but when Baunsøe let go, Jensen collapsed and fractured his skull on the pavement.The Olympic 100 km team time trial road race was held in over 40-degree heat on Viale Cristoforo Colombo in Rome. Jensen was brought by ambulance to an overheated military tent near the finish line, where he died that afternoon without regaining consciousness.
Also during the Paralympics
- Bahman Golbarnezhad (48), Iran – Cyclist – 2016, Rio de Janeiro – cardiac arrest following crash. During the men’s C4-5 road cycling event on 17 September 2016 at the 2016 Summer Paralympics, Golbarnezhad suffered a head injury during a collision with a rock on a mountainous stretch of the circuit in Pontal. Golbarnezhad was treated on-site, and was in the process of being transported to the athletes’ hospital when he died from a cardiac arrest.
During Olympic practice or after Olympic competition
- Edmond Brassart, (30), France – Fencer – 1900, Paris – Brassard was killed alongside three others in the collapse of the Passerelle des Invalides, a temporary bridge built for the Exposition Universelle de 1900. This occurred two months after he participated in the Olympic Games but also two months before the Games concluded.
- Nicolae Berechet (20), Romania – Boxer – 1936, Berlin – Berechet died three days after losing his bout against Evald Seeberg. His death was officially recorded as being due to blood poisoning, but it has been suggested that damage caused in the fight may have been a factor in his death.
- Ignaz Stiefsohn, Austria – Gliding (demonstration event) – 1936, Berlin – killed when his glider crashed during practice.
- Ross Milne (19), Australia – Downhill Skiing – 1964, Innsbruck – Ski collision in practice.
- Kazimierz Kay-Skrzypecki, Britain – Luge – 1964, Innsbruck – Luge crash in practice two weeks before the Games.
- Nicolas Bochatay (27), Switzerland – Speed Skiing (demonstration sport) – 1992, Albertville – collided with a snow machine in practice.
- Hyginus Anugo (22), Nigeria – 4 × 400 metres relay reserve – 2000, Sydney – struck by a vehicle while training.
- Nodar Kumaritashvili (21), Georgia – Luge – 2010, Vancouver – Luge crash in practice.
Other Olympic deaths
London 1948 – In 1948, during the London Olympics, Eliška Misáková, one of nine members of the Czechoslovak women’s team in gymnastics, became ill on arrival in the host city. Diagnosed with polio, she died on the last day of the Olympics, the same day her remaining teammates won the competition.
Melbourne 1956 – Arrigo Menicocci, Italian rower who competed in eights, was killed as a passenger in a car crash about 90 km northwest of Melbourne during the Olympics on 1st December 1956, four days after the end of the rowing competition.
Munich 1972 – In 1972, during the Munich Olympics, 11 members of the Israeli team were killed during a terrorist attack by Palestinian terrorists called Black September. The 11 Israeli Olympic Team members who were murdered in the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich are:
- Mark Slavin, 18, Wrestler
- Eliezer Halfin, 24, Wrestler
- David Mark Berger, 28, Weightlifter
- Ze’ev Friedman, 28, Weightlifter
- Yossef Romano, 32, Weightlifter
- Andre Spitzer, 27, Fencing coach
- Moshe Weinberg, 33, Wrestling coach
- Yossef Gutfreund, 40, Wrestling referee
- Amitzur Shapira, 40, Track and field coach
- Yakov Springer, 51, Weightlifting judge
- Kehat Shorr, 53, Shooting coach
Calgary 1988 – Between the morning and afternoon runs of the men’s giant slalom, Jörg Oberhammer, 47, the Austrian team doctor, was skiing on a recreational slope when he collided with another skier (a CTV technician) and was knocked under a snow-grooming machine, which crushed him instantly.
Deaths of non-participants at Olympic-related events
Lima 1964 – In a qualifying match for the Olympic football tournament, home fans began rioting after a late Peru goal was disallowed. Police fired tear gas into the crowd, exacerbating the situation, which ended with 318 deaths.
Mexico 1968 – The Mexico 68 protests were part of a worldwide series of leftwing student-led protests. While the protesting National Strike Council claimed not to link its demands to the Olympics, some students protested at the perceived extravagance of hosting the games, and some sought to exploit the increased foreign media presence in the city for publicity. The authoritarian government had a secret “Olympia Battalion” to ensure security during the Games. Ten days before the games, the unit swept through a mass meeting in the Plaza de las Tres Culturas making arrests. Estimates of the number killed in the operation range from thirty to several hundred.
Munich 1972 – In addition to the 11 Israeli Olympic Team members that died, West German police officer Anton Fliegerbauer and five Palestinian terrorists were killed during a shootout. Carmel Eliash, cousin of Moshe Weinberg, died of a heart attack during the public memorial service the following day.
Atlanta 1996 (Olympic Park Bombing) – On 27th July 1996 (the eighth day of the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games), a bomb exploded at the Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia, killing two and wounding over 100 people.
Athens 2004 Paralympics – Seven teenagers from Farkadona were killed in a crash whilst travelling to Athens for the Games, when their bus collided with a truck near the town of Kamena Vourla. Out of respect for their death, the cultural portion of the closing ceremonies of these Paralympics was cancelled.
Beijing 2008 – A Hong Kong Police motorcyclist was on a VIP escort to Sheung Yue River for 2008 Olympic Equestrian events and was killed en-route in a traffic collision.
London 2012 – On 1st August 2012, a special bus carrying media from the London Olympic Park was involved in a collision in which a cyclist was killed.
Rio de Janeiro 2016 – German Olympic coach Stefan Henze died on 15th August 2016 after his taxi was hit in a high-speed head-on collision in Rio.
But which is the deadliest Olympic Sport? Despite the clear risks involved in sports like pole vaulting, javelin or boxing, surprisingly they are much safer than some sports. However, injuries are frequent. Gymnastics isn’t just captivating and beautiful to watch, it can be life-threatening to the Olympians performing. “In our sport, we essentially dive into a pool with no water,” former Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceano said. “When you lose your ability to find the ground … the consequences can be catastrophic.” But such occurrences are very rare.
At the end of the 2008 Olympics, over 1,000 injuries had been reported. The events associated with the most injuries were football, taekwondo, and hockey. In 2016, 38% of BMX cyclists suffered injuries, compared to 8% of Olympians overall. I suppose a sport that requires competitors to propel off a hill before riding over jumps and tight corners at as high as 37 miles per hour is bound to have a few sprains!
For the ones of you who like equestrian events, less than 5% of equestrian athletes suffer injuries, putting it toward the bottom of the risky list — well behind badminton and handball. But when accidents happen with a 1,200-pound animal galloping, weaving, and jumping more than 20 miles per hour, they can lead to permanent injury. Less than 3% of Olympic rowers, shooters, archers, swimmers, golfers, and table tennis players got injured. And such injuries are medically minor, like a nerve issue in a finger or an overuse injury in a golfer.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Dustin Hoffman (84), Keith Carradine (72), Charlize Theron (46), Abbie Cornish (39), Michael Shannon (47), David Duchovny (61), Tobin Bell (79), John Glover (77), Cirroc Lofton (43), M. Night Shyamalan (51), Michelle Yeoh (59), Mark Strong (58), Loni Anderson (76), Kara Tointon (38), Meghan Markle (40), Billy Bob Thornton (66), Sebastian Roché (57), Barack Obama (60), Evangeline Lilly (42), Stephen Graham (48), Martin Sheen (81), John C. McGinley (62), Michael Ealy (48), Mamie Gummer (38), Steven Berkoff (84), John Landis (71), Kevin Smith (51), Edward Furlong (44), and Sam Worthington (45).
This week we could almost make up a band with those who have died. However, we have a world first in the news section, an actual video on the Dead Pool Newsletter! You heard right, a bloody video! Quick shout out to Nickie once again for finding loads of stories recently, makes editing the newsletter really easy 🙂
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Dieter Brummer, 45, Australian actor (Home and Away, Neighbours, Underbelly: The Golden Mile).
- Rick Aiello, 65, American actor (Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me, Do the Right Thing, The Sopranos), pancreatic cancer.
- Mike Howe, 55, American heavy metal singer (Metal Church, Heretic).
- Joey Jordison, 46, American musician & drummer (Slipknot, Murderdolls, Sinsaenum).
- Lee Man Tat, 91, Hong Kong food manufacturer, chairman of Lee Kum Kee.
- Mo Hayder, 59, British author (Birdman, The Treatment, Pig Island), complications from motor neurone disease.
- Dusty Hill, 72, American Hall of Fame musician (ZZ Top) and songwriter (“Tush“).
In Other News
If you remember, we covered the death of a last tribesman by Covid back in March, just so happens there’s more than one last tribe!!! Karapiru Awá Guajá had survived a massacre that killed most of his family in the Brazilian Amazon and lived for 10 years alone in the forest, but he could not escape the pandemic. Karapiru, one of the last of the hunter-gatherer nomadic Awá of Maranhão state, died of Covid-19 earlier this month. With only 300 Awá thought to remain, they have been called the “earth’s most threatened tribe”. In the 1970’s, Karapiru lost almost everyone he knew in a genocidal attack on his tribe by settlers. His wife, daughter, siblings and other family members were killed, and he was shot in the back. But his resilience became a source of inspiration for activists working to protect indigenous and un-contacted peoples. Awá lands have been under attack since the discovery of iron ore in the late 1960’s. Skilled archers, the Awá live scattered in family groups over a large area, and travel at night using torches made from tree resin. Many have had no contact with the outside world. Karapiru was estimated to be 75 when he died. The Indigenist Missionary Council a Catholic NGO working with indigenous peoples, reported his death as “a victim of Covid-19”, despite him having had the Covid vaccine. Fiona Watson, research director at Survival International, first met Karapiru in 1992. “I just thought I cannot believe this man survived on his own for 10 years, not speaking to anybody,” she says. “He spoke so quietly, he whispered, that really struck me because I thought, of course, he’s had to become invisible in order to survive. He started talking and smiling, and I thought how is he not more traumatised? He knew I wasn’t [an enemy], he had no rancour, no bitterness. That astounded me. That magnanimity. What an extraordinary human being, to be able to sort of forgive people in a way and to be able to carry on your life.”
Bob Odenkirk has collapsed on the New Mexico set of Better Call Saul and is in hospital. The actor was filming a scene when he “went down, and was immediately surrounded by crew members who called an ambulance.” Odenkirk is suspected to have suffered a heart related incident on Tuesday while filming but is now in a stable condition. His son has issued a statement saying he will make a full recovery. But while the circumstances around his collapse are unknown, anti-vaxxers have decided to blame the coronavirus vaccine. An article by right-wing Big League Politics used the misleading headline: “Better Call Saul Star Bob Odenkirk collapses on set after receiving experimental Covid-19 vaccine.” Odenkirk announced he had got the jab four months ago. Side effects are rare and are more likely to include a “sore arm” or “headache” – as per the NHS website. These effects occur in the first week of getting the jab, if at all, not four months later. But this has not stopped those who wish to discredit the vaccine. It is not the first time there have been unfounded conspiracies about the vaccine. Anti-vaxxers have also claimed the jab makes them magnetic!!!!
An entitled Ruby Rose has posted a tearful video to fans, revealing that it took her hours to get accepted into an emergency room after she had complications from surgery. The Orange is the New Black star said that “I did have a procedure and I had to have surgery, but it was fine and the surgery went well. But then I had a few complications and I had to go to the emergency room to go to the hospital.” She said that she “called an ambulance and it took hours to find a hospital that would be able to take me or anyone”. Rose began to cry as she told fans emergency rooms were “rejecting taking people and I… and my case was quite serious”. The Australian actress said she believes the difficulty getting into hospital was due to the pandemic. “Please stay safe, try to keep everyone safe. Get vaccinated if you can, please,” she said. “It’s just… it doesn’t need to be this hard for everyone and I just can’t imagine all the other people that are having way more, way, way more serious situations happening right now.” Rose did not disclose what procedure she had originally had that led to complications, but we suspect it was dramatitis.…
A Scottish climber has reportedly died in an avalanche on K2 – the world’s most dangerous mountain – as he attempted to take a new route to the summit. Rick Allen, from Aberdeen, was attempting to climb the world’s second highest mountain to raise money for the Partners Relief And Development charity. But according to reports from the base camp in Pakistan, the 68-year-old was caught in an avalanche on the mountain’s south-east face. His two climbing partners, Jordi Tosas of Spain and Stephan Keck of Austria, were reportedly rescued without major injuries. The death has not been officially confirmed but a Foreign Office spokeswoman said: ‘The British High Commission in Islamabad is aware of reports that a British citizen has died climbing K2 and stands ready to assist.’ Sadly, if donations equal his life’s worth, the fundraising effort had only received £170 of the £10,000 target at the time his death was reported. Mr Allen had previously been presumed dead in 2018 after falling from an ice cliff during a solo climb to the summit of Pakistan’s Broad Peak that, at 8,047m, is the 12th highest mountain on Earth. However, his rucksack was eventually spotted by a cook at the mountain’s base camp before a drone was used to locate him and to guide rescuers to his location. K2 is considered to be the world’s most dangerous mountain as it has a fatality rate of around 25 per cent compared to just 6.5 per cent on Everest, which is considerably more than Mount Snowdon in Wales, as rescuers say two women are “very lucky” to be alive after they were hit by lightning on the summit. The pair were in a five-strong group by its 3,560ft peak when they were struck on Wednesday afternoon. The Llanberis Mountain Rescue Team were called out by North Wales Police to help rescue them. The team said one woman “was falling in and out of consciousness”, while the other had minor injuries. Both women were evacuated from the summit to a lower slope, before a coastguard helicopter took them to hospital in Bangor, Gwynedd. Rescuers said neither woman had sustained life-threatening injuries. The rest of their group, which had been visiting north Wales, were “clearly shocked but otherwise uninjured”, said rescue co-ordinator Phil Benbow without a hint of irony. He added: “The advice generally is don’t be on the top of a mountain when thunder and lightning is about.” No shit Sherlock!
And finally, a tweet this week by @ScarredForLife2 went viral for correctly stating that the life expectancy of a character in a public information film was roughly 4.3 seconds, and had this video to prove it! For those of us who don’t remember, or who might be too young, public information films were a series of government-commissioned short films, shown during television advertising breaks in the United Kingdom. They were common place in the 1950’s until the 2000’s however became obsolete with the closure of the Central Office Of Information. The films advised the general public on what to do in a multitude of situations, ranging from crossing the road to surviving a nuclear attack!! Many of these films were aimed at children and were shown during breaks in children’s programmes during holidays and at weekends. Many of them involved or were narrated by celebrities of the day, which included the likes of David Prowse, Donald Pleasance, John Hurt and Jimmy Savile. Some of the more memorable films included the Charley Says animated series which advised children on the various dangers they might encounter in their daily lives, interestingly, Charley’s growls were voiced by none other than Kenny Everett. You might also remember Clunk Click Every Trip and the ever frightening AIDS: Don’t Die of Ignorance, which stopped a generation of kids from having sex forevermore!
On This Day
- 1774 – British scientist Joseph Priestley discovers oxygen, prior to this everyone suffocated at birth.
- 1834 – Slavery is abolished in the British Empire as the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 comes into force.
- 1893 – Henry Perky patents Shredded Wheat. Quite a feat to make straw a breakfast staple.
- 1965 – Frank Herbert‘s novel, Dune was published for the first time.
- 1976 – Niki Lauda has a severe accident that almost claims his life at the German Grand Prix at Nürburgring..
- 1981 – MTV begins broadcasting in the United States and airs its first video, “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles.
- 30 BC – Mark Antony, Roman general and politician (b. 83 BC)
- 1903 – Calamity Jane, American frontierswoman and scout (b. 1853)
- 2013 – John Amis, English journalist and critic (b. 1922)
- 2014 – Mike Smith, English radio and television host (b. 1955)
- 2015 – Cilla Black, English singer and actress (b. 1943)
The famous Tollund Man ate a modest but nutritious meal before being hanged around 400 BC, a new study reveals. Scientists have re-examined the last meal of the famous Tollund Man, a naturally mummified corpse found in a bog on the Jutland peninsula in Denmark in 1950. The new analysis reveals that he likely ate an Iron Age meal of fish and porridge packed with seeds, consumed sometime between 12 and 24 hours before his death.
Although it sounds fairly ordinary, threshing waste containing the wild seeds was used as an ingredient in the porridge, which is suggestive of ritual practices. They also found Tollund Man had several parasitic infections – likely because he consumed undercooked meat and contaminated water at some point prior to death.
Tollund Man is a bog body – meaning it’s been incredibly well-preserved over more than 2,000 years in the unique conditions of a natural peat bog. Previous research has determined his cause of death as murder by hanging for unknown reasons before his body was placed in the bog. Tollund Man may have been a criminal or was possibly even sacrificed as part of a ritual practice ‘to keep the gods satisfied’. Tollund Man’s gut contents had been analysed forensically when he was discovered in 1950, uncovering traces of cereals and wild plants. When Tollund Man was autopsied in 1950, his intestines were still preserved, and the alimentary canal from the stomach to anus was removed in one piece with its contents still in place.
Now, experts from Silkeborg Museum in Denmark, say they have been able to reconstruct the last meal of Tollund Man in greater detail than ever before – right down to how it was prepared. The researchers used a few millilitres of material from the large intestine for analyses to give the ‘most detailed study’ yet on the gut contents of a bog body.
‘Since knowledge of plant macro-fossils and the methods for analysing gut contents have improved greatly since 1950, we decided to re-investigate the gut contents of Tollund Man,’ said study author Dr Nina H. Nielsen from Museum Silkeborg.
‘In this way, we get very close to a specific situation in the past – you can almost imagine how they were sitting by the fireplace preparing the barley porridge and the fish.
‘We can now pretty much reconstruct the recipe of the last meal of Tollund Man.
Porridge was likely a typical dish in Iron Age northern Europe, and fish was also eaten in this period, although it did not make up a substantial part of the diet. His last meal was cooked in a clay pot, likely using water from a lake or bog, according to the experts.
His ‘quite nutritious’ porridge consisted of barley, flax seeds, pale persicaria seeds and other seeds in ‘negligible amounts’, including gold-of-pleasure seeds. Seeds of Pale persicaria – which grew as a weed – were likely removed as grain was cleaned during threshing and collected along with the grain. The use of threshing waste containing pale persicaria in the porridge could be connected to the human sacrifice ritual, or it might have been part of ordinary Iron Age cooking.
‘As for now, we don’t know whether the use of threshing waste in the Iron Age cuisine was normal practice or whether this ingredient was only used at special occasions like human sacrifices,’ said Dr Nielsen. Threshing waste has also before been found in the Grauballe Man, found in a peat bog near the village of Grauballe in Jutland, Denmark. Together, the plant ingredients alone provided nearly half of the daily caloric intake for a person with limited physical activity. Traces of a further 20 plant species were also found in the guts, but they made up less than 1 per cent and were probably not an intentional part of the meal. As well as the seeds, threshing waste including sand, charcoal and other detritus seems to have been used as an ingredient in the porridge.
Eggs from whipworm, mawworm and tapeworm were common in the gut contents of Tollund Man and show that he was infected by intestinal parasites. Whipworm and mawworm have previously been found in several bog bodies, but it is the first time that tapeworm is reported. The most likely cause of the tapeworm infection was that Tollund Man at some point had consumed raw or undercooked meat infected with tapeworm cysts. The infestations of whipworm and mawworm reflect poor hygiene, as these are transmitted by eggs present in human faeces, which contaminate the soil in areas where sanitation is poor. The researchers claim their study ‘shows that it can be beneficial to re-analyse bog body gut contents’ to reveal secrets of the past. Because of their exceptionally good preservation, bog bodies can provide detailed insights into how the people looked, dressed and died, as well as their last meal, their health and where they lived.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jason Momoa (42), Adrian Dunbar (63), Michael Biehn (65), Wesley Snipes (59), Emilia Fox (47), Dean Cain (55), Christopher Nolan (51), Arnold Schwarzenegger (74), Jaime Pressly (44), Hilary Swank (47), Laurence Fishburne (60), Frances de la Tour (77), Terry Crews (53), Lisa Kudrow (58), Jean Reno (73), Carel Struycken (73), Sian Gibson (45), Wil Wheaton (49), Stephen Dorff (48), David Warner (80), Elizabeth Berkley (49), Jonathan Rhys Meyers (44), Nikolaj Coster-Waldau (51), Taylor Schilling (37), Donnie Yen (58), Kate Beckinsale (48), Jason Statham (54), Sandra Bullock (57), Helen Mirren (76), Kevin Spacey (62), Nana Visitor (64), Eve Myles (43), and Mick Jagger (78).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Mary Ward, 106, Australian actress (Prisoner, Sons and Daughters, Neighbours).
- John Cornell, 80, Australian film producer, writer (Crocodile Dundee, Crocodile Dundee II) and actor (The Paul Hogan Show), complications from Parkinson’s disease.
- Rodney Alcala, 77, American serial killer.
- Jackie Mason, 93, American comedian and actor (The Simpsons, The Jerk, Caddyshack II).
In Other News
Former Good Morning Britain anchor, Piers Morgan has admitted that he has become one of the latest confirmed cases of coronavirus. It comes following the presenter’s trip to Wembley Stadium with his three sons. The 56-year-old believes he caught the Delta variant after heading to Wembley two weeks ago for the Euro 2020 final, that saw Italy take home the prestigious trophy. Over the past year, Piers has been perhaps one of the government’s most outspoken critics and policies. The journalist frequently attacked the government who refused to be questioned on Good Morning Britain during the height of the pandemic. Now, despite being double vaccinated, Piers has revealed the true extent of his symptoms. In order to attend the match, football fans had to provide proof that they were either double vaccinated or produce a negative test result. However, Piers claims he started to feel unwell just two days after the match, while at his home in Sussex. After taking a lateral flow test that displayed a positive result, he later took a PCR test, confirming that he was in fact positive, four days after the match. Writing in his column, Piers penned: “As I’m sure everyone who gets it feels, it’s a strange, disquieting moment to know I have this killer virus inside me.” Piers’ symptoms included a fever, cold sweats, coughing, sneezing, “strange aches” and “alarming” chest pains. He went on to write: “And my voice now sounds like Barry White, though I couldn’t feel less like a Walrus of Love. “This is definitely the roughest I’ve felt from any illness in my adult life, BUT, as I slowly come out the other side, coughing and spluttering. I’m still here – unlike so many millions around the world who’ve lost their lives to Covid in this pandemic.”
A swan believed to be the UK’s oldest has died at the age of thirty. Pickles the whooper swan, or common swan, was described as a “massive character”. He was born in early June 1991, although his precise hatching date is unknown. Staff at Leeds Castle in Kent, where he was often seen on the moat, designated 3 June as Pickles Day, serving him a special swan-friendly cake last month. There are 19 captive-bred swans in the grounds of the castle, including mute swans, trumpeter swans and black swans. “Fly high, Pickles, fly high,” the castle tweeted. “Pickles was much loved by everyone. We celebrated his birthday with his favourite seed cake recently and he enjoyed the media attention he got! It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Pickles the swan, who passed away yesterday,” said Mark Brattle, the castle’s falconry and wildlife manager. “Pickles the whooper swan was a massive character at the castle and will be missed by staff and visitors alike. The falconry and wildlife team would like to thank everyone for their kind words of support.” Whooper swans, which can grow to 5ft 3in in length, generally live to about ten in the wild, but have previously been known to reach their late twenties in captivity.
Chris Packham has revealed that he wants his ashes to be mixed with his two dogs Itchy and Scratchy, so they can be spread among the trees where they loved to play. Growing up with an animal can influence your choice of pet in the future, and for Chris Packham, 60, it was dogs – all of which were poodles. The nature presenter has had seven four legged friends over the years, to which he formed unique bonds with. And in a new interview, the Springwatch host admitted when he dies, he wants his ashes mixed with that of two of his poodles, Itchy and Scratchy, who saved him while he was in an extremely dark point in his life. Speaking of his love for the animals, he revealed his first dog Max died in 1995 and he didn’t get another until 2001, due to work commitments and general life changes. “My partner at the time was so bored with listening to stories about Max that she got me another dog, Fish, for my 40th birthday,” he said. But tragedy struck after the pooch was sadly hit by a car when he was a year old and died in his arms. “The suddenness and the shock was really damaging, and because of that six-year gap, I’d fallen in love with Fish more quickly,” Chris admitted. “I fell into a deep and intense depression, into a dark place where everything seemed to fall apart.” Seven years later, Itchy and Scratchy joined the family, but Chris admitted they weren’t an “instant fix”, instead they were something for him to “connect to”. “Itchy and Scratchy were there in my darkest moments — if they hadn’t been, I wouldn’t be here to write this,” he confessed the harrowing truth. And because of Fish’s awful fate, Chris’ growing concern for Itchy and Scratchy’s safety became his priority. “It got to a point where everyone could see we were three organisms umbilically linked,” he explained. When they got ill, the presenter decided to avoid any intolerable suffering and euthanise them. “It seemed obvious to me,” he shrugged. “When I die, I’ll be cremated and my ashes will be mixed with Itchy and Scratchy, and scattered by a particular tree. He now has two new poodles called Sid and Nancy, which he got in 2020. Both Sid & Nancy are crossing their paws in hope that Peckham lives a few more years as they don’t fancy being cremated alive with the wildlife presenter.
On This Day
- 1797 – Horatio Nelson loses more than 300 men and his right arm during the failed conquest attempt of Tenerife.
- 1965 – Bob Dylan goes electric at the Newport Folk Festival, signalling a major change in folk and rock music and people lo9se their fucking minds!
- 1978 – Birth of Louise Joy Brown, the first human to have been born after conception by in vitro fertilisation, or IVF.
- 1984 – Salyut 7 cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya becomes the first woman to perform a spacewalk.
- 2000 – Concorde Air France Flight 4590 crashes at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, killing 113 people.
- 1834 – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, English philosopher, poet, and critic (b. 1772).
- 1843 – Charles Macintosh, Scottish chemist and engineer (b. 1766).
- 2009 – Harry Patch, English soldier (b. 1898).
Edward Mordake is the apocryphal subject of an urban legend who was, according to the legend, born in the 19th century as the heir to an English peerage. Mordrake (originally spelled Mordake) was a young, intelligent, and good-looking English nobleman, as well as a “musician of rare ability.” But with all of his great blessings came a terrible curse. In addition to his handsome, normal face, Mordrake had a terrifying second face on the back of his head. According to legend, the face could whisper, grab objects, laugh or cry. The second face was said to be as “lovely as a dream, hideous as a devil.” This strange visage also possessed an intelligence “of a malignant sort.” Whenever Mordrake cried, the second face would “smile and sneer.”
Mordrake was constantly plagued by his “devil twin,” which kept him up all night whispering “such things as they only speak of in hell.” The young nobleman was eventually driven mad and took his own life at the age of 23, leaving behind a note ordering that the evil face should be destroyed after his death, “lest it continues its dreadful whispering in my grave.”
This story of the man with two faces spread like wildfire across America. On December 8, 1895, the Boston Sunday Post published an article titled “The Wonders of Modern Science.” This article presented reports from the so-called “Royal Scientific Society,” which documented the existence of “human freaks.” The public clamoured for more details about Mordrake, and even medical professionals approached the story without a hint of scepticism.
In 1896, American doctors George M. Gould and Walter L. Pyle included the Mordrake story in their book Anomalies and Curiosities of Medicine — a collection of peculiar medical cases. Although Gould and Pyle were legitimate ophthalmologists with successful medical practices, they were also quite gullible in at least this one case. Because as it turned out, the story of Edward Mordrake was fake.
As Alex Boese’s blog Museum of Hoaxes diligently deduced, the author of the original Post article, Charles Lotin Hildreth, was a poet and science-fiction writer. His stories tended toward the fantastical and other-worldly, as opposed to articles based in reality.
Of course, just because someone usually writes fiction doesn’t mean that every single thing they write is fictional. Still, there are many clues that suggest that the Mordrake story is completely made up.
For one, Hildreth’s article cites the “Royal Scientific Society” as its source for its numerous bizarre medical cases, but an organisation by that name didn’t exist in the 19th century.
The Royal Society of London was a centuries-old scientific institution, but there was no organisation that was both “Royal” and “Scientific” by name in the Western world. However, this name might’ve sounded believable to people who didn’t live in England — which may explain why so many Americans fell for the story of the man with two faces. Or perhaps Americans are just stupid.
Secondly, Hildreth’s article appears to be the first time any of the medical cases he describes have ever appeared in any literature, scientific or otherwise. The Royal Society of London’s entire database is searchable online, and Boese wasn’t able to find any of Hildreth’s anomalies in its archives — from the Norfolk Spider (a human head with six hairy legs) to the Fish Woman of Lincoln (a mermaid-type creature).
“When we realise this,” Boese wrote, “that’s when it becomes apparent that Hildreth’s article was fiction. All of it sprang from his imagination, including Edward Mordake.”
As one might imagine, many newspapers in the late 19th century weren’t held to the same editorial standards as they are today. While they were still vital sources of information and entertainment, they were also filled with fictional tales that were presented as if they were nonfiction.
Ultimately, Hildreth’s story about a man with two faces wasn’t necessarily irresponsible journalism. It was simply a tale written convincingly enough to trick a couple of doctors — and to endure in the public imagination for more than a century. Hildreth died mere months after his article was published, so he never got to see just how quickly Americans were fooled by his wild creativity.
Edward Mordrake’s story experienced a recent resurgence in popularity, thanks in part to the TV series American Horror Story.
The show rehashes the basics of the urban legend, although the television incarnation of Mordrake is driven to murder as well as suicide. The writers must have taken a great deal of inspiration from the original Boston Sunday Post article, since the lobster boy also makes an appearance in the show.
Lest modern readers think they are so much wiser than their Victorian fore-bearers that they would never be taken in by such an absurd tale, a photo supposedly depicting the remains of Mordrake’s head went viral in 2018.
This is not the first time a photo of the cursed nobleman has seized the public’s attention. But like all of the others, it is far from authentic.
The gruesome Janus-like skull is, in fact, just a papier-mâché artist’s imagining of what Edward Mordrake might have looked like if he existed. The artist has even gone on record stating it was created entirely for entertainment purposes. Another famous photo that is often mistakenly labelled as authentic is the work of a different artist who used wax.
Of course, even the most fantastical stories do contain at least a small grain of truth. The medical condition known as “craniofacial duplication” — the result of an abnormal protein expression — can cause the facial features of an embryo to be duplicated.
The condition is extremely rare and usually lethal, although there are a few recent documented cases of infants who managed to survive a short time with this mutation. For instance, Lali Singh was born with the condition in India in 2008.
Though Singh sadly didn’t live long, she was not believed to be cursed like Edward Mordrake. In fact, residents of her village thought that she was an incarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga, who is traditionally portrayed with multiple limbs.
After the poor baby Lali died when she was only a few months old, the villagers constructed a temple in her honour.
As for Edward Mordrake, his story continues to shock – and fool – people today. Even though the man himself never existed, the tale remains an enduring urban legend that will likely raise eyebrows for years to come.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Matt LeBlanc (54), D.B. Woodside (52), Iman (66), Rose Byrne (42), Elisabeth Moss (39), Anna Paquin (39), Summer Glau (40), Jennifer Lopez (52), Lynda Carter (70), Danny Dyer (44), Daniel Radcliffe (32), Kathryn Hahn (48), Woody Harrelson (60), Charisma Carpenter (51), Ronny Cox (83), Willem Dafoe (66), Selena Gomez (29), Terence Stamp (83), Rhys Ifans (54), Danny Glover (75), Louise Fletcher (87), Colin Ferguson (49), Josh Hartnett (43), Lance Guest (61), Paloma Faith (40), John Woodvine (92), Sandra Oh (50), John Francis Daley (36), Dean Winters (57), Julian Rhind-Tutt (53), Gisele Bündchen (41), Benedict Cumberbatch (45), and Jared Padalecki (39).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Matīss Kivlenieks, 24, Latvian ice hockey goaltender, injuries sustained from firework blast.
- Richard Donner, 91, American film director (Superman, Lethal Weapon, The Goonies) and producer.
- Big Jake, 20, American Belgian gelding, world’s tallest horse.
- Fay Allen, 83, Jamaican-born British police officer.
- Jonathan Coleman, 65, English-born Australian radio and TV presenter, prostate cancer.
- Chick Vennera, 74, American actor (Thank God It’s Friday, Animaniacs, The Milagro Beanfield War), cancer.
- Robert Downey Sr., 85, American actor (To Live and Die in L.A.). Parkinson’s disease.
- Charlie Robinson, 75, American actor (Night Court, Sugar Hill, The Black Gestapo), complications from cancer.
- Paul Orndorff, 71, American professional wrestler (WWF, WCW, GCW).
- Andy Fordham, 59, English darts player, world champion (2004), organ failure.
- Dawn Foster, 33, British journalist (The Independent, Tribune, The Guardian) and broadcaster.
- Tom O’Connor, 81, British comedian and game show host (Crosswits, The Zodiac Game, Name That Tune), complications from Parkinson’s disease.
In Other News
Pope Francis has been seen leaving hospital in Rome, 10 days after undergoing surgery to remove half his colon. A car carrying the 84-year-old was spotted leaving Gemelli Polytechnic hospital in the Italian capital on Wednesday morning. Francis had half of his colon removed for a severe narrowing of his large intestine on 4th July, his first major surgery since he became pope in 2013. It was a planned procedure, scheduled for early July when the pope’s audiences are suspended and he would normally take some time off. The Pope on Sunday made his first public appearance since the surgery, standing for about 10 minutes while delivering his weekly prayer from the balcony of his suite surrounded by young cancer patients. Francis will have several more weeks to recover before beginning to travel again in September. There are plans for him to visit Hungary and Slovakia between 12th and 15th September before a brief trip to Glasgow in November to participate in the COP26 climate conference. The Vatican had originally said Francis could be discharged last weekend, but later said he would stay a few days extra for further recovery and rehabilitation therapy. On the eve of his release, he visited the paediatric cancer ward, which is located on the same floor as the papal hospital suite. The Argentine pope had part of one lung removed when he was a young man but has otherwise enjoyed relatively robust health.
US country singer Ashley Monroe has revealed she is starting chemotherapy after being diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer. Monroe, a member of the band Pistol Annies, wrote on Instagram that she had been diagnosed with Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia after going to the doctor for routine lab work. According to cancer.org, Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia is a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. “A few months ago my doctor was doing some routine lab work and found that I was anaemic,” Monroe, 34, wrote. “I was like, FINE, I’ll just double up on cheeseburger patties, take some extra vitamins and call it a day. Well my red blood count just kept falling, and they found out my iron, b12, folic acid numbers were actually fine. short story long, they did a bone marrow biopsy, (ouch), and VOILA… a rare kind of blood c word called ‘Waldenstrom Macroglobulinemia’.” Monroe added that she was “thankful” for the support of her family and friends, and for her “angel son”, whom she is “fighting for the most”. Monroe formed the Pistol Annies alongside Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley in 2009. She has also enjoyed a successful solo career.
The president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro has reportedly been hospitalised after suffering from abdominal pains. He was admitted to the army hospital in the capital city of Brasilia for testing in the early hours of Wednesday, according to media reports. Mr Bolsonaro is expected to remain under observation for 24-48 hours. The 66-year-old had reportedly complained about persistent hiccups in the days before he was admitted to hospital. Mr Bolsonaro’s health has been in the spotlight during his presidency, particularly since he was stabbed and seriously injured on the campaign trail in 2018. His attacker was acquitted in 2019 on the grounds that he was mentally ill. Adelio Bispo de Oliveira pierced Mr Bolsonaro’s intestine, putting his life in danger, when he stabbed the leader with a knife in the streets of Juiz de Fora, north of Rio de Janeiro. The far-right politician was placed in intensive care and lost 40 per cent of his blood but sadly survived and went on to win the presidential election. According to the National Organization for Rare Disorders (US), non-stop hiccups can be caused by ‘brain lesions, tumours, intestinal diseases, and liver or kidney disorders.’ We can only pray and hope for the people of Brazil that one (or all) are the cause of his hiccups!
Security minister James Brokenshire has announced he is standing down from the government to concentrate on his fight against cancer. The Old Bexley and Sidcup MP resigned as Northern Ireland secretary in 2018 for surgery to remove a lesion on his right lung, but returned to Theresa May’s cabinet later that year as housing secretary and joined the Home Office under Boris Johnson in 2020. He announced in January he was taking a leave of absence from ministerial duties for surgery on a tumour. But in a letter to Mr Johnson, he today said that his recovery from treatment and return to full duties was “taking longer than anticipated”. “I have therefore concluded that it is best that I stand down from my ministerial role and focus on restoring my health,” he said. Mr Brokenshire said he hoped “to be able to serve again in some way in the future”. The 53-year-old father-of-three has previously said that his lung cancer diagnosis came as a “jolt” as he had never smoked. In a letter written in crayon accepting his resignation from the government, Mr Johnson said: “I look forward to welcoming you back as soon as possible.”
The son of former middleweight boxing champion Chris Eubank died on Friday, a month after becoming a father. His widow, Salma Abdelati, said the 29-year-old had the heart attack while in the sea in Dubai. She said she was grateful “he was able to spend a few short and happy weeks with his son before his death”. Sebastian, who had followed in his father’s footsteps to become a professional boxer, had been due to turn 30 on 18th July. In a statement, his widow said: “Dubai Police and the coroner have confirmed that after a full post-mortem Sebastian Eubank tragically died from a massive heart attack whilst in the sea and probably could not have been saved even if out of the water. There was evidence of a pre-existing heart condition we were all unaware of. While still very painful, it is of some comfort that Sebastian died after having one of his favourite meals with one of his closest friends whilst doing his favourite thing at his favourite place in Dubai where he often went to swim. He was standing in the water close to shore watching the sunset at Cove Beach in Dubai.” Figures from around the boxing world and beyond paid tribute to Sebastian, the middle child of Eubank’s five children, following the news of his death. His father called his son a “deep thinker who liked to challenge accepted wisdom” in an earlier tribute to him. Eubank said the family was devastated at the loss of Sebastian, who grew up in Hove but had been living in Dubai, where he was “a leader in the adoption of a healthy lifestyle and of alternative therapies”. Sebastian, who boxed using the name Alka Lion, made his debut in February 2018 against Polish fighter Kamil Kulczyk. His brother, Chris Eubank Jr, also a professional boxer, said on Twitter: “Rest easy little brother, I love you and you will be missed always.”
A Los Angeles rapper was shot dead in his car in a brazen daylight attack last week while he was live-streaming on Instagram in what police believe was a gang-related killing. Zerail Rivera, who went by the name Indian Red Boy, was murdered in Hawthorne on July 8th at about 4.10pm while speaking to a friend on Instagram from inside his car. The disturbing video, which is being shared widely online, shows the 21-year-old smiling and laughing with his friend as the gunman approached his window. Rivera could be seen glancing out the window just as the gunshots started to ring out. He could be seen trying to cover his head with his arms as at least 12 shots were fired. His friend, social media influencer Kapone, can be heard saying: ‘What the fuck? Bro, what the fuck? Where you at?’ A bloodied Rivera could be seen mouthing ‘help’ repeatedly to the camera before whispering ‘I’m in Hawthorne’. He dropped his camera seconds later and the live-stream ended. Police responding to reports of the shooting found Rivera ‘slumped in the front seat’. He had been shot multiple times and was pronounced dead at the scene. The gunman fled before authorities arrived. No one has been arrested in relation to the shooting. Police are still reviewing surveillance video from the area but they believe it was a walk-up shooting and that Rivera was targeted. They say it was likely gang-related but have not provided further details.
On This Day 11th July
- 1804 – A duel occurs in which the Vice President of the United States Aaron Burr mortally wounds former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton.
- 1960 – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is first published, in the United States.
- 1962 – First transatlantic satellite television transmission.
- 1979 – America’s first space station, Skylab, is destroyed as it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere over the Indian Ocean.
On This Day 18th July
- 1944 – World War II: Adolf Hitler survives an assassination attempt led by German Army Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg.
- 1969 – Apollo program: Apollo 11’s crew successfully makes the first manned landing on the Moon in the Sea of Tranquility. Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to walk on the Moon six and a half hours later.
- 1982 – Hyde Park and Regent’s Park bombings: The Provisional IRA detonates two bombs in Hyde Park and Regent’s Park in central London, killing eight soldiers, wounding forty-seven people, and leading to the deaths of seven horses.
- 2012 – James Holmes opened fire at a movie theatre in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 and injuring 70 others.
Deaths on 11th July
- 1937 – George Gershwin, American pianist, songwriter, and composer (b. 1898).
- 1989 – Laurence Olivier, English actor, director, and producer (b. 1907).
- 2000 – Robert Runcie, English archbishop (b. 1921).
- 2005 – Gretchen Franklin, English actress and dancer (b. 1911).
- 2006 – John Spencer, English snooker player and sportscaster (b. 1935).
Deaths on 18th July
- 1923 – Pancho Villa, Mexican general and politician, Governor of Chihuahua (b. 1878).
- 1973 – Bruce Lee, American actor and martial artist (b. 1940).
- 2005 – James Doohan, Canadian-American actor (b. 1920).
- 2011 – Lucian Freud, German-English painter and illustrator (b. 1922).
- 2012 – Alastair Burnet, English journalist (b. 1928).
- 2017 – Chester Bennington, American singer (b. 1976).
Francis Crowley was an American murderer. His crime spree lasted nearly three months, ending in a two-hour shootout with the New York City Police Department on May 7th 1931, that was witnessed by 15,000 bystanders and received national attention. In 1932 he was executed in New York’s electric chair.
Crowley was born in New York City on October 31st 1912, the second son of an unwed German mother who gave him up for adoption. He had a hatred for police, with some speculating that his absent father was a police officer.
This hatred for the police was compounded by police killing his brother John when Crowley was 12 years old. John was alleged to be involved in the killing of NYPD Officer Maurice Harlow on February 22nd 1925. Shortly thereafter John Crowley was killed in a confrontation with police officers while resisting arrest on a charge of disorderly conduct. By his late teens, Francis Crowley had a reputation as a troubled youth with a criminal history.
On February 21st 1931, Crowley and two other young men crashed a dance hosted by the American Legion in the Bronx. Several Legionnaires tried to remove them from the venue, so Crowley drew a gun and wounded two men before fleeing. He was charged with attempted murder and went into hiding. He was confronted by police on March 13th. He escaped into an office building on Lexington Avenue after shooting Detective Ferdinand Schaedel. Two days later, Crowley and four others robbed a bank in New Rochelle, New York.
A month later, Crowley and two friends broke into the West 90th Street apartment of real estate broker Rudolph Adler. Adler attempted to resist them, and Crowley shot him five times using two pistols, which earned him the nickname “Two Gun”. Adler’s dog Trixie attacked the robbers and drove them from the house, saving her owner’s life.
On April 27th, Crowley was out joyriding in a stolen vehicle with his partner Rudolph “Fats” Durringer and dance hall hostess Virginia Brannen. Brannen resisted Durringer’s advances, so Durringer shot and killed her while still in the car. Crowley then helped him dump her body at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers. New York City police found Brannen’s body and escalated their efforts to find Crowley.
On April 29th he was spotted in the Bronx driving a green Chrysler Imperial sedan along 138th Street near the Morris Avenue Bridge. Police pursued him, but he escaped after a running gun battle. Detectives found that the bullets extracted from a police car matched those that killed Virginia Brannen and those from other unsolved shootings. The following day, Crowley’s car was found abandoned with bullet holes and bloodstains on the inside. On May 6th, Crowley was sitting in a parked car with his 16-year-old girlfriend Helen Walsh on Morris Lane in North Merrick, Long Island when he was approached by police officers Frederick Hirsch and Peter Yodice, who asked for identification. Crowley fired at them, killing Hirsch and wounding Yodice. He then sped off.
The following day, Crowley, Walsh, and Durringer were tracked down to a fifth-floor apartment in a rooming house on West 91st Street. The residence belonged to a former lover of Crowley’s, who notified the police upon seeing Crowley with another woman. Outside the building, a force of 300 police officers armed with rifles, machine guns, and tear gas assembled. The events attracted 15,000 bystanders.
Crowley and the police exchanged gunfire for nearly two hours, with the police firing an estimated 700 rounds into the building. While Walsh and Durringer reloaded Crowley’s pistols, Crowley threw back several tear gas grenades that the police had thrown into the apartment through a hole cut into the roof. After suffering four gunshot wounds and bleeding heavily, he finally surrendered. Arresting officers found two pistols strapped to his legs.
On May 29th, less than three weeks after his arrest, Crowley was tried and convicted of the murder of police officer Frederick Hirsch. His partner, Fats Durringer, was found guilty of the murder of Virginia Brannen. Both men were sentenced to death on June 1st. Crowley was sentenced to death by electric chair.
Crowley spent his last year on death row at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York. He remained a disciplinary problem – stuffing his prison uniform down a toilet, setting fire to his bed, and frequently crafting homemade weapons. His attitude became somewhat more serene as his execution neared: He reportedly adopted a starling that frequently flew into his cell. For his last meal, Crowley enjoyed steak and onions, french fries, apple pie, ice cream and melted ice cream?!?!
On January 21st 1932, Crowley’s last words to Warden Lewis Lawes were to ask for a rag. Referring to Durringer’s death in the same electric chair, Crowley said, “I want to wipe off the chair after this rat sat in it.” It is not clear if the request was granted.
Crowley was only 19 when he was executed.
Last Two Week’s Birthdays
Vin Diesel (54), Kristen Bell (41), Elizabeth McGovern (60), James Brolin (81), Priyanka Chopra Jonas (39), Paul Verhoeven (83), Richard Branson (71), Donald Sutherland (86), Alex Winter (56), Eric Winter (45), David Hasselhoff (69), Will Ferrell (54), Phoebe Cates (58), Corey Feldman (50), Travis Fimmel (42), Diane Kruger (45), Brigitte Nielsen (58), Forest Whitaker (60), Celia Imrie (69), Jesse Ventura (70), Adam Savage (54), Phoebe Waller-Bridge (36), Jackie Earle Haley (60), Matthew Fox (55), Kyle Gass (61), David Mitchell (47), Harrison Ford (79), Sharon Horgan (51), Patrick Stewart (81), Ken Jeong (52), Michelle Rodriguez (43), Anna Friel (45), Melissa O’Neil (33), Bill Cosby (84), Tamsin Greig (55), Cheryl Ladd (70), Stephen Lang (69), Caroline Quentin (61), Craig Charles (57), Sofía Vergara (49), Chiwetel Ejiofor (44), Jessica Simpson (41), Peter Serafinowicz (49), John Simm (51), Tom Hanks (65), Kelly McGillis (64), Pamela Adlon (55), Courtney Love (57), Fred Savage (45), Scott Grimes (59), Richard Roundtree (79), O.J. Simpson (74), Richard Wilson (85), Kevin Bacon (63), Anjelica Huston (70), Jaden Smith (23), Jeffrey Tambor (77), Shelley Duvall (72), Jack Whitehall (33), Ringo Starr (81), Eva Green (41), Sylvester Stallone (75), Kevin Hart (42), Burt Ward (76), Geoffrey Rush (70), Jennifer Saunders (63), 50 Cent (46), and Huey Lewis (71).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Stuart Damon, 84, American actor (General Hospital, The Champions), kidney failure.
- Donald Rumsfeld, 88, American politician, secretary of defence, multiple myeloma.
- Pete McGarry, 71, British electrician, (Gogglebox), colon cancer.
In Other News
Blink-182 singer-bassist Mark Hoppus gave 153 concerned fans an encouraging update on his cancer treatment while on Twitch on Sunday. The 49-year-old still hasn’t specified what type of cancer he was diagnosed with, but he admitted he was ‘feeling much better’ than he had on Saturday. ‘I woke up today feeling better,’ Mark said. ‘I went for a walk, and I had a decent breakfast, and I haven’t felt like I was going to throw up today, so we’ll take it as a win. I’ve actually, like, watched movies and walked around and cleaned the house and hung out with my dogs, I didn’t just feel like a poisoned electrified zombie leaned up against an electric fence like I did the rest, the past couple of rounds.’ Hoppus said he was nauseated after his most recent round of chemotherapy treatments, which began in March. ‘I still have months of treatment ahead of me, but I’m trying to remain hopeful and positive,’ Mark said in his statement. ‘Can’t wait to be cancer free and see you all at a concert in the near future. Love to you all.’
Although not famous enough for our purposes, but sadly the youngest survivor of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster has died aged 34 after a long battle with drug addiction. Carly Zutic, from Dumfries, was just nine weeks old when her soldier father swam to safety with her ‘baby grow in his teeth’ from capsize tragedy which killed 193 people. The family held a small, private funeral for the Scottish mother due to current Covid restrictions on funerals. At about 6pm on March 6th, 1987, the Townsend Thoresen roll-on, roll-off ferry The Herald Of Free Enterprise turned over on its side outside Zeebrugge, Belgium, as it set out for Dover, Kent. Carly’s father Petar reportedly carried Carly’s ‘baby grow in his teeth’ as she was so tiny when he rescued her, swimming to safety as the passenger ferry capsized. They were reunited with Carly’s mother Julie just six hours later. A friend said, ’Carly’s rescue was the stuff of legend around Dumfries. Her dad swam to safety with her baby grow between his teeth as she was so tiny. It was a story that made headlines around the world at the time and they are quite well known because of it.’
In a horrifying incident, a 25-year-old Iraqi chef fell into a giant vat of chicken soup, sustaining third-degree burns over 70 per cent of his body, several Middle Eastern outlets reported. He succumbed to his injuries five days later. Issa Ismail was making chicken soup for a wedding party on 15th June in Iraq’s northern district of Zakho, when he slipped and fell into the vat. Ismail, a father of three, was preparing food at the Hazel Hall for Weddings and Events when the accident happened. He was rushed to a hospital in the nearby city of Dohuk for treatment. After battling severe burn injuries for several days, Ismail succumbed on 21st June. His tragic death has led to an outpouring of grief on social media when news of this accident was finally out. One of his relatives, Zervan Hosni, was quoted in the local media as saying: “Issa cooked food at wedding parties, mourning boards and various ceremonies, and for two years he has been working in two-party halls for 25,000 dinars per day.” Which is roughly £12.50 a day. The local Kurdish media — Rudaw Media Network — quoted him as saying that Ismail had three children and the youngest was just six months old!!
On This Day
- 1776 – American Revolution: The United States Declaration of Independence is adopted.
- 1826 – John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, respectively the second and third presidents of the United States, die the same day, on the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence. Adams’ last words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives.”
- 1862 – Lewis Carroll tells Alice Liddell a story that would grow into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequels.
- 1910 – The Johnson–Jeffries riots occur after African-American boxer Jack Johnson knocks out white boxer Jim Jeffries in the 15th round. Between 11 and 26 people are killed and hundreds more injured.
- 1911 – A massive heat wave strikes the northeastern United States, killing 380 people in eleven days and breaking temperature records in several cities.
- 1918 – Bolsheviks kill Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family.
- 1954 – Rationing ends in the United Kingdom.
- 1826 – John Adams, American lawyer, 2nd President of the United States (b. 1735).
- 1826 – Thomas Jefferson, American lawyer, 3rd President of the United States (b. 1743).
- 1831 – James Monroe, American lawyer, 5th President of the United States (b. 1758).
- 1934 – Marie Curie, French-Polish physicist and chemist, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1867).
- 1995 – Bob Ross, American painter and television host (b. 1942).
- 2003 – Barry White, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer (b. 1944).
- 2012 – Eric Sykes, English actor, director, and screenwriter (b. 1923).
- 2013 – Bernie Nolan, Irish singer (b. 1960).
In the early hours of the morning on October 13th 1980, two police officers were out on patrol in Harrisburg in an unmarked car. They heard gunfire coming from a nearby wooded area which was unlit and often used for dumping trash. As they approached the scene they found a 1967 Ford van parked on a dirt road near some bushes. After hearing rustling noises coming from the bushes they ordered the person making the noise to come out. Zettlemoyer emerged from the woods holding a handgun and a flashlight. He claimed he had been shooting rats, but the officers were not convinced. Zettlemoyer was ordered to drop the gun and was then secured.
One of the officers searched the area and came across the body of 29-year-old Charles DeVetsco. He had been shot a total of four times. It later emerged he had been shot twice in the van while handcuffed and was then dragged from the van to the woods where two more fatal shots were fired. The cause of death was confirmed as a massive haemorrhaging of the heart, which had been penetrated by .357 magnum bullets.
DeVetsco had worked with Zettlemoyer at a retail store and had been scheduled to testify against him in an upcoming robbery trial in Snyder County. In May 1980, Zettlemoyer and an accomplice had carried out a robbery, in which they had bound a security guard at a RadioShack near Sunbury and had stolen electronic equipment worth thousands of dollars. The accomplice was later caught trying to return the equipment for money and had named Zettlemoyer as his partner. Zettlemoyer had then confided in DeVetsco about the heist. DeVetsco contacted the authorities, and had planned to testify against him. Zettlemoyer had kidnapped DeVetsco near Selinsgrove and had driven him to Harrisburg to kill him in order to prevent his testimony.
On April 24th 1981, Zettlemoyer was convicted of first degree murder and was sentenced to death. After spending fourteen years on death row, Zettlemoyer fired his lawyers and dropped his efforts to live. He begged the courts to let him die because he claimed “brain disease” was making his life hell. Doctors reported that Zettlemoyer was suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder. Lawyers for the Pennsylvania Post-Conviction Defender Organization argued that Zettlemoyer was not mentally competent, however, three psychiatrists testified he was sane. DeVetsco’s mother also argued that Zettlemoyer was mentally ill and was, therefore, not competent to be executed for the murder of her son.
However, Zettlemoyer was executed by lethal injection on May 2nd 1995, at State Correctional Institution – Rockview. His last meal was two cheeseburgers, french fries, chocolate pudding and chocolate milk. He became the first person to be executed by the state of Pennsylvania since the resumption of the death penalty in 1976 and the first inmate put to death in Pennsylvania in thirty-three years. He remains the first of only three people to be executed in Pennsylvania since the resumption of the death penalty. The others were Leon Moser in August 1995 and Gary M. Heidnik in 1999.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Gina Lollobrigida (94), Post Malone (26), Neil Morrissey (59), Tom Cruise (59), Connie Nielsen (56), Patrick Wilson (48), Kurtwood Smith (78), Yeardley Smith (57), Margot Robbie(31), Lindsay Lohan (35), Larry David (74), Jerry Hall (65), Peter Kay (48), Liv Tyler (44), Pamela Anderson (54), Geneviève Bujold (79), Dan Aykroyd (69), Debbie Harry (76), Vincent D’Onofrio (62), Marton Csokas (55), Katherine Ryan (38), Mike Tyson (55), Cheryl (38), Gary Busey (77), Amanda Donohoe (59), Aleks Paunovic (52), Katherine Jenkins (41), Mel Brooks (95), John Cusack (55), Kathy Bates (73), Alice Krige (67), Felicia Day (42), and Elon Musk (50).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Joanne Linville, 93, American actress (A Star Is Born, Scorpio, James Dean).
- John McAfee, 75, British-American computer programmer and businessman, suicide.
- Jackie Lane, 79, British actress (Doctor Who, Compact).
- Johnny Solinger, 55, American singer-songwriter (Skid Row).
In Other News
James Michael Tyler, the actor best known for playing coffee shop worker Gunther on Friends, has revealed that he has prostate cancer. Tyler was diagnosed back in 2018, but had kept his diagnosis private until a new interview with us. “I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer, which had spread to my bones,” Tyler said. “I’ve been dealing with that diagnosis for almost the past three years. … It’s stage four now. Late stage cancer. So eventually, you know, it’s gonna probably get me.” According to the 59-year-old actor, the illness was noticed during an annual check-up. “I was 56 years old at the time, and they screen for PSA, which is prostate-specific antigen,” Tyler said. “That came back at an extraordinarily high number … So I knew immediately when I went online and I saw the results of my blood test and blood work that there was obviously something quite wrong there. Nearly immediately, my doctor called me and said ‘Hey, I need you to come in tomorrow because I suspect that you may have quite a serious problem with your prostate.” According to Tyler, he underwent hormone therapy, which “worked amazingly for about a year”, allowing him to continue living as normal. The actor added that the cancer mutated “right at the time of the pandemic”, spreading to his bones and spine, leading to paralysis of his lower body. He said that he is currently undergoing chemotherapy and “aggressively” treating the disease. A few weeks ago Tyler did make a brief appearance on the Friends special via Zoom, but did not feature alongside the cast in real life. “I wanted to be a part of that, and initially I was going to be on the stage, at least, with them, and be able to take part in all the festivities. It was bittersweet, honestly. I was very happy to be included. It was my decision not to be a part of that physically and make an appearance on Zoom, basically, because I didn’t wanna bring a downer on it, you know? … I didn’t want to be like, ‘Oh, and by the way, Gunther has cancer.’”
British boxer Brian London, who challenged Muhammad Ali for his world title, has died aged 87. London, who fought Ali just months after England won the World Cup in 1966, fought 58 times over the course of his 15-year professional fight. He retired in 1970 following a stoppage defeat by Joe Bugner which took his record to 37-20-1. Born in Hartlepool in 1934, London moved to Blackpool when he was 16 and took on the nickname the Blackpool Rock. He won his first dozen fights as a professional before losing to Henry Cooper who also challenged Ali later in his career. Current Blackpool boxer Brian Rose was among those to pay tribute. “My thoughts and wishes go out to his family as well,” he told us. “It must be so sad for them because he will have made a massive impact in their lives. He was so well liked in the town and he was still out and about. I remember seeing him not so long ago walking around the park. He just never stopped. It’s a shame Blackpool has lost him.” London, born Brian Sydney Harper, went on to win the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles but lost his second and third fights with Cooper. His fight with Ali, in which he was stopped in the third round, was his only challenge for a world title and he later admitted: ‘Ali was big, fast and he could punch, whereas I was smaller, fatter and couldn’t punch. He stopped me in three rounds and that was it, I don’t think I hit him. It was good money and I got well paid for it – that’s all I fought for. Every fight I ever had I always had a go, but with Muhammad Ali I thought, ‘Don’t get hurt Brian’, and I therefore didn’t try, which was wrong, totally wrong.” London went on to open and run a nightclub in Blackpool called The 007 Club which was opened by Manchester United legend George Best and attracted stars from across sport and showbiz.
On This Day
- 1556 – The thirteen Stratford Martyrs are burned at the stake near London for their Protestant beliefs.
- 1743 – In the Battle of Dettingen, George II becomes the last reigning British monarch to participate in a battle. Don’t think we’d do too well with Queenie and her cake cutting sword skills!
- 2015 – Formosa Fun Coast fire: A dust fire occurs at a recreational water park in Taiwan, killing 15 people and injuring 497 others, 199 critically.
- 1996 – Albert R. Broccoli, American film producer (b. 1909).
- 2001 – Jack Lemmon, American actor (b. 1925).
- 2001 – Joan Sims, English actress (b. 1930).
- 2002 – John Entwistle, English singer-songwriter, bass guitarist, and producer (b. 1944).
- 2018 – Joe Jackson, American manager, father of Michael Jackson (b. 1928).
The Case of Tamám Shud
The mystery of the Somerton Man, is an unsolved case of an unidentified man found dead in 1948 on the Somerton Park beach, just south of Adelaide, South Australia. The case is named after the Persian phrase tamám shud, meaning “is over” or “is finished”, which was printed on a scrap of paper found months later in the fob pocket of the man’s trousers.
On the morning of 1st December 1948, the police were contacted after the body of a man was discovered on Somerton Park beach. The man was found lying in the sand with his head resting against the seawall, with his legs extended and his feet crossed. It was believed the man had died while sleeping. An unlit cigarette was on the right collar of his coat. A search of his pockets revealed an unused second-class rail ticket from Adelaide to Henley Beach; a bus ticket from the city that may not have been used; a US-manufactured, narrow aluminium comb; a half-empty packet of Juicy Fruit chewing gum; an Army Club cigarette packet, which contained seven cigarettes of a different brand, Kensitas, and a quarter-full box of Bryant & May matches.
According to the pathologist, John Burton Cleland, the man was of “Britisher” appearance and thought to be aged about 40–45; he was in “top physical condition”. He was 180 centimetres (5 ft 11 in) tall, with grey eyes, fair to ginger-coloured hair, slightly grey around the temples, with broad shoulders and a narrow waist, hands and nails that showed no signs of manual labour, big and little toes that met in a wedge shape, like those of a dancer or someone who wore boots with pointed toes; and pronounced high calf muscles consistent with people who regularly wore boots or shoes with high heels or performed ballet. He was dressed in a white shirt; a red, white and blue tie; brown trousers; socks and shoes; a brown knitted pullover and fashionable grey and brown double-breasted jacket of reportedly “American” tailoring. All labels on his clothes had been removed, and he had no hat (unusual for 1948) or wallet. He was clean-shaven and carried no identification, which led police to believe he had committed suicide. Finally, his dental records were not able to be matched to any known person. The autopsy showed a massive amount of internal bleeding but no external marks to have caused the internal damage. It also showed that the man’s last meal was a pasty eaten three to four hours before death, but tests failed to reveal any foreign substance in the body. The pathologist, Dr. Dwyer, concluded: “I am quite convinced the death could not have been natural … the poison I suggested was a barbiturate or a soluble hypnotic”. Although poisoning remained a prime suspicion, the pasty was not believed to be the source. Other than that, the coroner was unable to reach a conclusion as to the man’s identity, cause of death.
On 14th January 1949, staff at the Adelaide railway station discovered a brown suitcase with its label removed. It was believed that the suitcase was owned by the man found on the beach. In the case were a red checked dressing gown; a size-seven, red felt pair of slippers; four pairs of underpants; pyjamas; shaving items; a light brown pair of trousers with sand in the cuffs; an electrician’s screwdriver; a table knife cut down into a short sharp instrument; a pair of scissors with sharpened points; a small square of zinc thought to have been used as a protective sheath for the knife and scissors; and a stencilling brush, as used by third officers on merchant ships for stencilling cargo. Also in the suitcase was a thread card of Barbour brand orange waxed thread of “an unusual type” not available in Australia – it was the same as that used to repair the lining in a pocket of the trousers the dead man was wearing. All identification marks on the clothes had been removed but police found the name “T. Keane” on a tie, “Keane” on a laundry bag and “Kean” on a singlet, along with three dry-cleaning marks.
An inquest into the man’s death found that he died from poison, that the poison was probably a glucoside and that it was not accidentally administered; but it couldn’t be said whether it was administered by the deceased himself or by some other person. After the inquest, a plaster cast was made of the man’s head and shoulders. The lack of success in determining the identity and cause of death of the man had led authorities to call it an “unparalleled mystery” and believe that the cause of death might never be known.
Around the same time as the inquest, a tiny piece of rolled-up paper with the words “Tamám Shud” printed on it was found in a fob pocket sewn within the dead man’s trouser pocket. Public library officials called in to translate the text identified it as a phrase meaning “ended” or “finished” found on the last page of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. The paper’s verso side was blank. Police conducted an Australia-wide search to find a copy of the book that had a similarly blank verso.
Following a public appeal by police, the copy of Rubaiyat from which the page had been torn was located. The theme of Rubaiyat is that one should live life to the fullest and have no regrets when it ends. The poem’s subject led police to theorise that the man had committed suicide by poison, although no other evidence corroborated the theory. The book was missing the words “Tamám Shud” on the last page, which had a blank reverse, and microscopic tests indicated that the piece of paper was from the page torn from the book. Also, in the back of the book were faint indentations representing five lines of text, in capital letters. The second line has been struck out – a fact considered significant due to its similarities to the fourth line and the possibility that it represents an error in encryption. Code experts were called in at the time to decipher the lines but were unsuccessful.
A telephone number was also found in the back of the book, belonging to a nurse named Jessica Ellen “Jo” Thomson (1921–2007). who lived about 400 metres north of the location where the body was found. When she was interviewed by police, Thomson said that she did not know the dead man or why he would have her phone number and choose to visit her suburb on the night of his death. Gerry Feltus stated that when he interviewed Thomson in 2002, he found that she was either being “evasive” or she “just did not wish to talk about it”. Feltus believed Thomson knew the Somerton man’s identity. Thomson’s daughter Kate, in a television interview in 2014 with Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes, also said that she believed her mother knew the dead man.
There has been persistent speculation that the dead man was a spy, due to the circumstances and historical context of his death. At least two sites relatively close to Adelaide were of interest to spies: the Radium Hill uranium mine and the Woomera Test Range, an Anglo-Australian military research facility.
In March 2009 a University of Adelaide team led by Professor Derek Abbott began an attempt to solve the case through cracking the code and proposing to exhume the body to test for DNA. His investigations have led to questions concerning the assumptions police had made on the case.
Decryption of the “code” was being started from scratch. It had been determined the letter frequency was considerably different from letters written down randomly; the frequency was to be further tested to determine if the alcohol level of the writer could alter random distribution. The format of the code also appeared to follow the quatrain format of Rubaiyat, supporting the theory that the code was a one-time pad encryption algorithm. Copies of Rubaiyat, as well as the Talmud and Bible, were being compared to the code using computers to get a statistical base for letter frequencies. However, the code’s short length meant the investigators would require the exact edition of the book used. With the original copy lost in the 1950s, researchers have been looking for a FitzGerald edition.
An investigation had shown that the Somerton man’s autopsy reports of 1948 and 1949 are now missing and the Barr Smith Library’s collection of Cleland’s notes do not contain anything on the case. Maciej Henneberg, professor of anatomy at the University of Adelaide, examined images of the Somerton man’s ears and found that his cymba (upper ear hollow) is larger than his cavum (lower ear hollow), a feature possessed by only 1–2% of the Caucasian population. In May 2009, Abbott consulted with dental experts who concluded that the Somerton Man had hypodontia (a rare genetic disorder) of both lateral incisors, a feature present in only 2% of the general population. In June 2010, Abbott obtained a photograph of Jessica Thomson’s eldest son Robin, which clearly showed that he – like the unknown man – had not only a larger cymba than cavum but also hypodontia. The chance that this was a coincidence has been estimated as between one in 10,000,000 and one in 20,000,000.
An exhumation was carried out on 19th May 2021. The remains were deeper in the ground than previously thought. The authorities have said that they intend to take DNA from the remains if possible. Dr. Anne Coxon of Forensic Science South Australia said: “The technology available to us now is clearly light years ahead of the techniques available when this body was discovered in the late 1940s,” and that tests would use “every method at our disposal to try and bring closure to this enduring mystery”. As of yet, we have not heard any news from this study.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Tobey Maguire (46), Courtney Ford (43), Matthew Lewis (32), J.J. Abrams (55), Meera Syal (60), Nick Offerman (51), Ariana Grande (28), Chris O’Donnell (51), Jason Schwartzman (41), Robert Davi (70), Chris Isaak (65), Ricky Gervais (60), Erin Moriarty (27), Iain Glen (60), Peter Weller (74), Nancy Allen (71), Mick Fleetwood (74), Melissa Rauch (41), Frances McDormand (64), Joel Edgerton (47), Selma Blair (49), Joss Whedon (57), Bryan Brown (74), Meryl Streep (72), Bruce Campbell (63), Lindsay Wagner (72), Kris Kristofferson (85), Cyndi Lauper (68), Stephen Chow (59), Tim Russ (65), Nicholas Lea (59), Erin Brockovich-Ellis (61), Prunella Scales (89), Chris Pratt (42), Juliette Lewis (48), David Morrissey (57), and Lana Del Rey (36).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Ned Beatty, 83, American actor (Network, Deliverance, Superman).
- Lisa Banes, 65, American actress (Cocktail, Young Guns, Gone Girl), traffic collision.
- Champ, 13, American dog, presidential pet (since 2021).
- Kenneth Kaunda, 97, Zambian politician, president (1964–1991), pneumonia.
- Alex Harvill, 28, American motorcycle stuntman, practice collision.
- Vladimir Shatalov, 93, Russian cosmonaut (Soyuz 4, Soyuz 8, Soyuz 10), twice Hero of the Soviet Union.
In Other News
The patriarch of ‘The World’s Largest Family’ with 39 wives, 94 children, 33 grandchildren and one great-grandchild, which adds up to 181 people, has died at the age of 76. The polygamous man from northeast India whose dozens of wives and scores of children had turned his family into a tourist attraction. Ziona Chana’s death was confirmed by Mizoram’s chief minister, Zoramthanga, who offered his condolences on Twitter “with a heavy heart”. Chana reportedly suffered from diabetes and hypertension. Doctors told PTI news agency that Chana’s condition deteriorated at home in his village, Baktawng Tlangnuam. He was admitted to hospital on Sunday evening, where he was declared dead on arrival. While various local news reports have referred to him as holding the “world record” for such a large family, it’s unclear which global record it is. But world record or not, Chana and his family are a local sensation of sorts, attracting tourists to their village in India’s north-east. The enormous family lives together in a four-storied house called “Chuuar Than Run” or New Generation House, with 100 rooms. His wives share a dormitory near Chana’s private bedroom, according to local media. The mansion is a major tourist attraction in the state, with people from around the world thronging the village to get a peek into the family’s lifestyle. According to Reuters news agency, Chana was born in 1945. He met his oldest wife, who is three years older than him, when he was 17.
Social-media users without anything better to do are sharing Google Street View images featuring friends and relatives who have since died. It was sparked by a post on the Twitter account Fesshole, who said they had searched the map platform for images taken before their father had died. The BBC’s Neil Henderson shared an image of his late father at his front door. “I have literally hundreds of pics of my dad but the Google Street View is quite affecting, like he’s still around,” he wrote. Another tweeter showed an image of a couple holding hands in the street – his parents, he said, who had died several years ago. One captured a lady just outside her doorway. “My mum creeping outside for a cigarette,” wrote Bernard Baker. Others said just seeing local images taken when their loved ones were still alive made them feel a connection. And some expressed regret images poignant to them had been replaced with more recent photos. Searching through Google Street View for strange objects or bizarre moments captured in freeze-frame has become something of a niche internet pastime.
Scarface, the world’s most famous lion, has died of natural causes aged 14, in Kenya. The king of animals, and the oldest lion in the Maasai Mara game reserve, was known for the huge scar across his right eye. He had his own Facebook page, and starred in several documentaries, including the BBC’s Big Cats Diary. His passing leaves a 400 square-mile territory up for grabs in the Kenyan reserve. The massive area in the Malaika and Ashnil camp territories was once held by Scarface and his three brothers: Morani, Sikio, and Hunter. They were known as the ‘Four Musketeers’ and headed a pride of nine females with cubs and a few young males.Conservationists said the lion, whose species typically live between 10 and 14 years, had become skinny and sickly in the period leading up to his death. Announcing his death, the Mara Predator Conservation Programme said: ‘At 1 pm local time [on Friday, June 11], Scarface took his last breath. ‘He died in peace without any disturbance from vehicles and hyenas. We were the only vehicle on the scene and by his side, hoping to give him any kind of comfort.’The Mara has lost yet another one of its great iconic males. May his legend forever live on.’ Scarface suffered a series of injuries in his lifetime and was hit by a the spear of a Maasai warrior who was trying to protect his cattle. He received the scar across his eye, earning him the nickname Scarface, during a 2012 territory raid with his brothers when he was just four years old. Vets repeatedly intervened to treat the wound when it opened, preventing infection.
On This Day
- 1837 – Queen Victoria succeeds to the British throne.
- 1893 – Lizzie Borden is acquitted of the murders of her father and stepmother.
- 1963 – Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Soviet Union and the United States sign an agreement to establish the so-called “red telephone” link between Washington and Moscow.
- 1975 – The film Jaws is released in the United States, becoming the highest-grossing film of that time and starting the trend of films known as “summer blockbusters”.
- 1906 – John Clayton Adams, English painter (b. 1840).
- 1974 – Horace Lindrum, Australian snooker player (b. 1912).
- 2005 – Jack Kilby, American physicist and engineer, Nobel Prize laureate (b. 1923).
Soddor Family Mystery
When fire engulfed the Sodder family home on Christmas Eve, with only four of the nine children inside managing to escape, the awful tragedy rocked their small community. But the apparently fatal blaze soon turned into one of America’s greatest unsolved mysteries as, once the flames had been put out, none of the bodies of the children trapped in the house were found.
At first George and Jennie Sodder assumed that five of their children, aged between five and 14, had perished in the fire at their home in Fayetteville, West Virginia. But they soon realised things were not as they seemed and remained convinced their missing children were still alive for the rest of their lives.
But while the case is marked by odd events and has inspired many conspiracy theories, from kidnapping to the involvement of the Italian mafia, it is still unsolved today.
Up until bedtime on December 24, 1945, it had been a normal Christmas Eve in the Sodder household, where nine of George and Jennie’s ten children – their eldest was fighting in World War Two – played and exchanged gifts. Youngest children Martha, Jennie, Betty, Maurice and Louis, all asked to stay up later than usual to play, and their mum agreed, as long as they helped take care of the cows and chickens before bed. Around midnight, the phone started ringing and mum Jennie went downstairs to answer it. A woman asked for someone whose name she didn’t recognise, so told the caller she had reached the wrong number. Downstairs, she found the lights and curtains open, with Marion, one of the eldest sisters, asleep on the couch. Assuming the children had neglected to do their chores and had gone straight to sleep in the attic, she headed back to bed herself.
At 1am, Jennie was woke again, this time by the sound of an object hitting the house’s roof with a loud bang, followed by a rolling noise. After hearing nothing further, she went back to sleep. But she woke again half an hour later because of the smell of smoke and found a fire had broken out in George’s office. She woke him, who in turn woke his four older sons, and the six managed to flee the house. Unable to get upstairs because of the flames, they frantically called the children, but there was no response. As the family desperately tried to rescue their children, a series of odd events would later convince the Sodders something much more sinister had occurred.
First, they tried to call the fire department, but found the line was dead. It was later found that the phone line at the top of their power pole had been cut – even though only an hour and a half earlier someone had managed to phone the Sodder’s home. George then went to grab his ladder to get the children down from the second floor. But the ladder, which was normally resting against the side of the house, wasn’t in its usual place or anywhere else where they looked. So he decided to drive his truck underneath he window and climb on top of it to reach them – but neither of George’s trucks would work, even though both were in good working order the previous day. One of the children, Marion, then ran to a neighbour’s house to phone the fire department but she couldn’t get through to an operator.
Someone at a nearby tavern, seeing the blaze, also called the fire department but again there was no operator to make the call. By then, the surviving family members could only watch as their home – and the five young children – went up in flames.
By the time the volunteer firefighters arrived the next morning – most were overseas serving in the war – the family assumed they had perished inside.
Four days after the fire, George bulldozed the home intending the make a memorial garden for his children, while death certificates were issued for each. But it wasn’t long before the family began to question what really happened.
First, the Christmas lights staying on through the beginning part of the blaze, which would not have occurred if it was an electrical fire caused by “faulty wiring”, as investigators concluded. They also found the missing ladder, which had been moved from the side of the house and hidden in an embankment near the home. A witness also came forward claiming he saw a man at the fire scene taking a block and tackle used for removing car engines – perhaps the reason why Georg’s trucks refused to start. And a telephone repair man told the Sodders that their lines appeared to have been cut, not burned – which could only have happened in the hour and a half between the midnight phone call to the home and the start of the fire. Most significant, however, was when Jennie found kitchen appliances intact in the rubble, and wondered why they had not been burned to ash if their children’s bodies had. She later contacted a crematorium which told her that a two-hour fire at 2,000oF – both hotter and longer than the Sodder’s house fire – would still leave human bones intact.
The parents then began their campaign to find out what had really happened, and the case of the Sodder children became an enduring mystery which would fascinate America for decades.
One of the strongest theories, which George and Jennie came to believe, was that their children had been abducted by the Sicilian mafia, in retaliation for Italian immigrant George’s outspoken criticism of Mussolini and the fascist government back in his homeland.
Two months before the fire, a travelling insurance salesman tried to sell George a policy, but when he declined he was shocked by the salesman’s response: “Your goddamn house is going up in smoke and your children are going to be destroyed. “You are going to be paid for the dirty remarks you have been making about Mussolini”. Around the same time, a stranger appeared at the home asking George, who owned a trucking company, about hauling work. Walking to the back of the house he pointed to two fuse boxes and said “this is going to cause a fire some day” – even though George had just had his wiring checked by the local power company who pronounced it safe.
Just weeks before the fire some of the Sodder children had noticed two people in a car watching them on their way home from school and told their parents. But despite the suspicions the family never received any communication from the Italian mafia, who were known for using kidnaps to extort money from victims’ families. When George and Jennie asked for help from the FBI but were refused, they contracted a private investigator called C.C. Tinsley, who discovered that the insurance salesman who had threatened George was a member of the coroner’s jury that had deemed the fire accidental, further adding to the mystery. Tinsley persuaded Morris to go with him to dig up the box, but the ‘heart’ inside was found to be beef liver, untouched by the fire.
Soon after, the Sodders heard rumours that the fire chief had told others that he had buried the beef liver in the rubble in the hope that the family would conclude that their children really had died there and give up claiming they had been abducted. But subsequent hearings failed to find any answers, telling the Sodders their search was “hopeless’ and declaring the case closed.
Undeterred, they erected a billboard long Route 16 near the scene of the fire, offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the recovery of their children. But while George travelled the country to investigate each lead, he always returned home without any answers.
In 1968, more than 20 years after the fire, Jennie went to get the mail and found an envelope addressed only to her. Postmarked in Kentucky with no return address, it contained a photo of a man in his mid-20s with features comparable to those of their son Louis, who was nine at the time of the fire. On its flip side was a handwritten note: “Louis Sodder. I love brother Frankie. Ilil Boys. A90132 or 35.”
One again they hired a private detective, but he failed to find the sender of the letter, and the couple never heard from him again.
In an interview in 1966, George, now aged 71, said: “Time is running out for us. “But we only want to know. If they did die in the fire, we want to be convinced. Otherwise, we want to know what happened to them.” He died the following year, still hoping for a breakthrough in the case.
Jennie lived the rest of her life in isolation, still wearing only black, which she had done since the fire as a sign of mourning, until her own death in 1989. Their quest for answers was taken up by their grown-up children, but all but one of them also passed away without finding any answers. The last surviving Sodder child, Sylvia, now aged 76, is just as convinced as her parents were that her lost siblings didn’t die in the fire.
The last surviving witness to what happened on that fateful Christmas Eve 74 years ago, she is still hoping she will find the truth before it is too late.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Nicole Kidman (54), John Goodman (69), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (32), Robert Rodriguez (53), Miles O’Keeffe (67), Kathleen Turner (67), Zoe Saldana (43), Aidan Turner (38), Paula Abdul (59), Richard Madden (35), Isabella Rossellini (69), Carol Kane (69), Paul McCartney (79), Will Forte (51), Jodie Whittaker (39), Barry Manilow (78), Arnold Vosloo (59), James Bolam (86), Courteney Cox (57), Helen Hunt (58), Neil Patrick Harris (48), Jim Belushi (67), Ice Cube (52), Will Patton (67), Yasmine Bleeth (53), Boy George (60), and Donald Trump (75).
As footballers fail to die in the late Euro 2020 Championship, we’re also struggling to find notable deaths this week, even India’s Covid disaster seems to have calmed down! Anyhow, plenty of non-football related stories to read, Let’s crack on!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Ben Roberts, 70, British actor (The Bill).
- Douglas S. Cramer, 89, American television producer (Wonder Woman, Dynasty, The Love Boat) and art collector, heart and kidney failure.
- Noel Conway, 71, British assisted dying campaigner, assisted suicide.
- Lucinda Riley, 55, Northern Irish author (The Seven Sisters series) and actress (Auf Wiedersehen, Pet), cancer.
In Other News
General Hospital star Kirsten Storms revealed in a series of Instagram stories she received brain surgery. The 37-year-old actress told followers she had an operation earlier in the week to address a growing cyst in her brain. In spite of the harrowing circumstance, Storms was in good spirits and will continue to rest at home. Storms showed some humour by saying there’d be no visual effect to disguise her state post-op. “There really is no filter that’s going to make this better for me right now,” she said in the first video. In acknowledging the shocking reveal, Storms stated this was the first time she publicly talked about her medical issue. “I’ve not really spoken about this much or at all actually. Less than 48 hours ago I had brain surgery, hence the neck brace, it was on the lower portion of my brain,” she said. Storms assured fans that she did not have a bout with cancer: “What they had to drain and remove was not cancer — I want to clarify that right now before the internet goes crazy wild with rumours about this. I had a very large cyst that had split into two and the doctor said it was like so full the pressure was very noticeable when they opened up my skull, sounds so weird,” she explained. For future plans regarding her role on General Hospital, Storms said will be “on the mend for the next several weeks but I will be back at work when this is over with,” and that in her spare time healing she’ll be doing what she loves best – knitting.
North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is looking noticeably slimmer in the latest images released by state media last week, prompting speculation about his health, after disappearing from public view for more than a month. The experts closely following North Korea and its leaders said that Kim Jong-un may have lost a significant amount of weight. The analysis in the report said the length of the strap past the buckle on the Swiss company watch worn by Kim Jong-un in his latest pictures appear longer, indicating a slimmer wrist. Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said if he has intentionally lost weight to get healthier, then it “likely improves his position at home. If the sudden weight loss is due to a health condition though, the jockeying for his succession may already be happening behind the scenes, and that volatility could be trouble for the outside world,” said Mr Narang. The health of the North Korean leader has been a matter of intense interest among the experts and foreign intelligence agencies including South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS), as there have been a few instances of him disappearing for weeks from the public eye. Earlier, experts assessed that he is at high risk of cardiovascular disease. His family reportedly has a history of heart issues as well. In November 2020, the NIS had reportedly told South Korean lawmakers that they believed Kim Jong-un weighed about 140 kilograms.
A 28-year-old British woman who was attacked by a crocodile in Mexico over the weekend is no longer in a coma, her twin sister has said. Melissa Laurie and her twin Georgia, from Berkshire, were swimming in the Manialtepec lagoon, Oaxaca, when the incident happened. After being rushed to Ángel del Mar hospital in the resort of Puerto Escondido, Melissa was put into a medically-induced coma and later developed sepsis when her bite marks became infected. She was attacked “three or four times” by the animal according to witnesses, before her twin Georgia managed to fight it off. “Georgia has terrible bite marks on her body”, their mother, Sue Laurie said. Georgia found her sister face down in water in the Manialtepec Lagoon, 16 km away from the popular surfing resort, and dragged her to safety. The crocodile attacked them both again but Georgia was able to fend it off and swim to the boat with her sister. The two are currently still at the Mexican hospital. Their father Sean told the us that Georgia “kept punching it in the head. They were swimming after dark in the bioluminescent waters when Georgia heard Melissa cry out. She called for her but she didn’t reply. She could hear other members of the tour group but did not hear anything from her sister. At the time we didn’t know if her injuries were life-threatening or not. She had water on her lungs and she had been coughing up blood. So we don’t know if she had a punctured lung or not.” The twins’ older sister Hana, 33, claimed earlier this week that her siblings’ tour guide had taken them to a spot where swimming was not recommended. She told us: “They asked if the water was safe and were told it was, and evidently that’s not the case. They’re not naive people, Georgia and Melissa are experienced with animals, Georgia’s a great diver, which is how we think she’s managed to save her life.” The tour guide was arrested by the Guardia Civil after fleeing from the lagoon, according to the local police.
Continuing with the ‘being eaten alive’ theme, an experienced lobster diver survived being caught in a humpback whale’s mouth near Provincetown, Massachusetts on Friday morning. Michael Packard was searching for lobsters on the ocean floor on his second dive of the day, approximately 45 feet below the surface, when he said he felt a bump and then he was in total darkness. “All of a sudden, I felt this huge shove, and the next thing I knew it was completely black,” Mr Packard told us following his release from the Cape Cod Hospital. At first the 45-year-old thought that he was in the mouth of a great white shark, which are common in the area. But when he realised that he hadn’t suffered any obvious wounds from sharp teeth, he determined that he was in the mouth of a whale. “I realised, oh my God, I’m in a whale’s mouth and he’s trying to swallow me, and I thought to myself OK, this is it, I’m gonna die!” Mr Packard said that his thoughts then went to his wife and sons, whom he feared he would never see again. He estimates that he was in the whale’s mouth for 30 to 40 seconds. Mr Packard was able to continue to breathe, as he had his regulator in his mouth, but could feel the whale “squeezing with the muscles in his mouth” the whole time. Mr Packard said: “It was happening so fast, my only thought was how to get out of that mouth, and I realised, there was no overcoming of a beast of that size. He was going to do with me what he wanted to do.” Luckily, fate was on Mr Packard’s side. He said he could tell that the whale didn’t like having him in its mouth. “All of a sudden he went up to the surface. He just erupted and started shaking his head, and I just got thrown in the air and landed in the water and I was free.” He added: “I just floated there. I couldn’t believe I got out of that.” Josiah Mayo, a crewman from Mr Packard’s boat, saw the whale burst to the surface and spit out Mr Packard. Mr Mayo retrieved Mr Packard from the water before calling the shore by radio, and speedily returning to the Provincetown Pier. An ambulance met Mr Packard at the pier and took him to Cape Cod Hospital; he was released Friday afternoon, having sustained some bruising and soft tissue damage to his legs whilst in the whale’s mouth. Jooke Robbins, the director of Humpback Whale Studies at the Centre for Coastal Studies in Provincetown explained that what happened to Mr Packard was most likely an accident, caused by a somewhat clumsy, juvenile whale. She said that as humpback whales feed, their mouths open and billow out in a parachute-like manner, obstructing their vision, which is likely what led to Mr Packard becoming trapped in the whale’s mouth. She added that humpback whales are not known to be aggressive, especially towards humans.
On This Day
- 1495 – A monk, John Cor, records the first known batch of Scotch whisky.
- 1974 – The Heimlich maneuver for rescuing choking victims is published in the journal Emergency Medicine. Before this day, people just choked to death.
- 2001 – Nepalese royal massacre: Crown Prince Dipendra of Nepal shoots and kills several members of his family including his father and mother. Prince Harry has admitted that he has thought about a similar attempt.
- 2004 – Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols is sentenced to 161 consecutive life terms without the possibility of a parole, breaking a Guinness World Record.
- 1927 – Lizzie Borden, American accused murderer (b. 1860).
- 1943 – Leslie Howard, English actor, director, and producer (b. 1893).
- 1960 – Paula Hitler, German-Austrian sister of Adolf Hitler (b. 1896).
- 1962 – Adolf Eichmann, a German Nazi SS-Obersturmbannführer (b. 1906).
- 1985 – Richard Greene, English actor and soldier (b. 1918).
- 1999 – Christopher Cockerell, English engineer, invented the hovercraft (b. 1910).
- 2001 – Hank Ketcham, American cartoonist, created Dennis the Menace (b. 1920).
- 2008 – Yves Saint Laurent, French fashion designer (b. 1936).
- 2015 – Charles Kennedy, Scottish journalist and politician (b. 1959).
William G Zuern was executed by the State of Ohio for the murder of a Hamilton County sheriff’s deputy working as a corrections officer in the county jail. Zuern spent 19 years and 7 months on death row, with lawyers fighting his death sentence. His execution occurred on the day before the 20th anniversary of the crime for which he was condemned.
In May 1984, Zuern, who was awaiting trial for the murder of Gregory Earls, was incarcerated at the Community Correctional Institute in Hamilton County, Ohio. In the latter part of the month, Zuern had a conversation with another inmate about corrections officers’ failure to give Zuern his full five minutes of telephone time. During the conversation, Zuern expressed general hostility towards the officers, saying “somebody should do something to them sons of bitches”. The inmate had also observed Zuern sharpening a straightened portion of a hook from a metal bucket over the course of three days and informed a corrections officer that Zuern either had a knife or a shank.
On June 9th 1984, another inmate informed a sheriff’s deputy that he and Zuern had argued the day before and that Zuern said he was going to kill him. The inmate also said that Zuern had a homemade knife which he had sharpened on his cell floor. That evening, officers went to search Zuern’s cell, among others. Before the officers arrived at Zuern’s cell, Zuern received word from another inmate that the officers were coming to search his cell.
At approximately 10:20pm, Officers Joe Burton and Phillip Pence arrived to perform the search and found Zuern lying naked in his bunk. Officer Pence ordered Zuern to get to his feet; he then stood at the door of the cell. Pence unlocked the cell and told Zuern to come out and put his hands against the wall. Zuern lunged at Pence and fatally stabbed him in the chest with the metal shank. The weapon was a long dagger-like piece of metal, approximately seven inches long. One end was sharpened to a point, and the other end was curved into a loop. The shank pierced three holes in Pence’s heart.
Prior to his execution, Zuern dined on mashed potatoes and gravy, lasagna, macaroni and cheese, garlic bread, corn, chocolate milk and cherry cheese cake but left this world without saying any final words.
The 45-year-old died six minutes after two lethal drugs – Pancuronium Bromide to stop his breathing and Potassium Chloride to stop his heartbeat – began flowing into his veins. His death was a peaceful one. His chest heaved several times, and his lips parted with slightly laboured breathing for several minutes before his breathing stopped forever. Zuern’s face and shaved head turned lightly purple before prison officials drew a curtain between Zuern and the witnesses at 10:03 a.m. After a prison doctor performed a quick examination, the curtain was reopened and Warden James Haviland drew a microphone to his mouth and said, “Time of death 10:04 a.m.”
Zuern’s death was not enough for co-workers and relatives of his victims. “William Zuern Jr. went too easy today. I believe that he should have died the way Phil died,” said Jeff Roush, a Hamilton County sheriff’s deputy who witnessed the murder of his colleague and friend, Phillip Pence. “This case was nothing more than putting a mad dog to sleep,” he said. Rousch was unhappy that Zuern never met his glare. “I think he just cowarded his way out. We just glared at him (during his execution) but he wouldn’t look at us,” he said. Rousch’s thirst for vengeance was shared by Joseph Burton, another coworker who witnessed Pence’s murder, and family members of Zuern’s two murder victims – Pence and Gregory Earls, who Zuern fatally shot. “It was too easy on him. It was too easy,” said Sherry Behler, Pence’s half-sister, after witnessing the execution. Juanita Earls, the mother of Earls, Zuern’s first victim, said after the execution, “My son was murdered by William Zuern. I waited 20 years to see justice done for my son. For that, I’m grateful. He died more merciful than my son and Phillip Pence died. He was an animal.”
Last Week’s Birthdays
Chris Evans (40), Ally Sheedy (59), Stellan Skarsgård (70), Malcolm McDowell (78), Tim Allen (68), Richard Thomas (70), Mary-Kate Olsen (35), Ashley Olsen (35), Simon Callow (72), Kathy Burke (57), Steve-O (47), Shia LaBeouf (35), Joshua Jackson (43), Peter Dinklage (52), Hugh Laurie (62), Adrienne Barbeau (76), Jane Goldman (51), Elizabeth Hurley (56), DJ Qualls (43), Jürgen Prochnow (80), Johnny Depp (58), Natalie Portman (40), Eddie Marsan (53), Michael J. Fox (60), Griffin Dunne (67), Nancy Sinatra (82), Kanye West (45), Liam Neeson (69), Karl Urban (49), Anna Torv (42), Michael Cera (33), Lance Reddick (59), Bill Hader (43), Helen Baxendale (51), Bear Grylls (47), and Tom Jones (81).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Joe Lara, 58, American actor (American Cyborg: Steel Warrior, Steel Frontier, Tarzan: The Epic Adventures), plane crash.
- Robert Hogan, 87, American actor (The Lady in Red, Species II, Youth in Oregon), complications from pneumonia.
- F. Lee Bailey, 87, American attorney (O. J. Simpson trial).
- Damaris Hayman, 91, English actress (Doctor Who, Steptoe and Son, Love Thy Neighbor).
In Other News
Gone Girl actor Lisa Banes is in critical condition after being involved in a hit-and-run accident. Banes, 65, lives in Los Angeles, but was in New York for the first time since the pandemic to perform two-woman show The Niceties at the Manhattan Theatre Club. According to police, she was on her way to a dinner party when she was hit by a motorised scooter while crossing the road. The vehicle drove through a red light and the driver fled the scene. Police say Banes had the right of way and was “flung” from the road. Banes’s wife, Kathryn Kranhold, revealed that she has traumatic brain injury and is being treated in the intensive care unit at Mount Sinai Morningside hospital. Banes’ credits include Tom Cruise film Cocktail, western Young Guns and the TV shows The Orville, Nashville and Masters of Sex. In Gone Girl, she played the mother of Rosamund Pike’s character Amy Dunne.
Three men were hurt in a fight involving an axe and a Samurai sword on Formby Beach near Liverpool on Sunday. Police rushed to the scene of the incident at around 7.10pm on Sunday evening in Sefton, Merseyside, after receiving calls that three men had been stabbed. A witness told us that the men had met on the beach for an “arranged fight” before one of them reached for a weapon. “The lad who was losing the fight pulled out an axe and hit the other lad with it,” the witness said. “His mate then pulled out a samurai sword and used that too. It was bad.” The injured men were taken to hospital by air ambulance while police closed the beach, which was busy at the time due to the warm weather. Those leaving were asked to give their details to officers. The erudite and educated Detective Superintendent Mark Baker of the Merseyside Police said in a statement: “At this early stage we believe that these incidents are linked, but are keeping an open mind as to the motives behind them. However, we know the community of Formby and beyond will be alarmed to hear about what has happened and will share our determination to find those responsible and remove them from the streets,” he said. The detectives have appealed for information and are also checking the footage from CCTVs installed in the area. They are also trying to gather information from the local community. Glad to to the ancient art of duelling is alive and well.
Acting and performing legend Dick Van Dyke has shown everyone how he stays fit and healthy at the age of 95. Sitting on the ground in his garden, Van Dyke demonstrated how he does an ab workout with the use of exercise equipment, saying, “I’m 95 and a lot of my friends won’t do these”. (I’m 46 and I won’t either! Ed). While doing sit-ups, the 95-year-old explained: “The stomach is the core of your whole body. If your stomach’s strong, you’re in good shape.” The actor revealed that his workout routine has kept him in shape and allowed him to keep doing what he loves. He said: “So all you old guys out there, listen to me. I’m telling you, you can keep going. I’m still dancing and singing!” The Hollywood legend is best known for his iconic roles in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Mary Poppins, including the 2018 sequel Mary Poppins Returns, where he made a cameo appearance. He explained that, for the part, he was offered the choice of different dances to learn but chose the most difficult one to make a point. The actor explained: “They gave me three versions, and I took the hardest one. I said, ‘I want that one. I had to prove I can do it. I was 91, I think.” He also touched on aspects of his personal life and spoke about when he revealed on television in 1974 that he is a recovering alcoholic. Van Dyke explained: “I had friends who said, ‘You’re crazy’. But it seemed to help a lot of people. I got a lot of mail from people who have said, ‘If you can do it, I can do it.’”
On This Day
- 1944 – Commencement of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy, with the execution of Operation Neptune – commonly referred to as D-Day – the largest seaborne invasion in history. Nearly 160,000 Allied troops cross the English Channel with about 5,000 landing and assault craft, 289 escort vessels, and 277 minesweepers participating. By the end of the day, the Allies have landed on four invasion beaches and are pushing inland.
- 1975 – British referendum results in continued membership of the European Economic Community, with 67% of votes in favour.
- 1832 – Jeremy Bentham, English jurist and philosopher (b. 1748).
- 1948 – Louis Lumière, French film director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1864).
- 1961 – Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist (b. 1875).
- 1968 – Robert F. Kennedy, American lawyer, and politician (b. 1925).
- 1976 – J. Paul Getty, American businessman, founded the Getty Oil Company (b. 1892).
- 2005 – Anne Bancroft, American film actress (b. 1931).
Children Who Kill
Lionel Tate is the youngest American citizen ever sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. In January 2001, when Tate was 13, he was convicted of first-degree murder for the 1999 battering death of six-year-old Tiffany Eunick in Broward County, Florida.
On July 28th 1999, Tate was left alone with Eunick, who was being babysat by Tate’s mother, Kathleen Grossett-Tate. While the children were downstairs playing, Tate’s mother called to them to be quiet. Tate came up 45 minutes later to see that Eunick was not breathing. He said that while they were wrestling, he had her in a headlock and the child’s head hit a table. Only Eunick and Grossete-Tate were present when this occurred.
Tate was convicted of killing Eunick by stomping on her so forcefully that her liver was lacerated. Her legs, feet, and neck all had serious bruises; an example of the amount of force used on her was similar to bruises from that of a speeding car. Her other injuries included a fractured skull, fractured rib, and swollen brain. These injuries were characterised by the prosecution as “similar to those she would have sustained by falling from a three-story building.” In sentencing Tate to life imprisonment, Judge Joel T. Lazarus of Broward County Circuit Court said that “The acts of Lionel Tate were not the playful acts of a child, they were cold, callous and indescribably cruel.”
Florida Statutes required the jury to convict Tate of first-degree murder even if the jury did not believe that he intended to kill or injure anyone – all that was required was that Tate knowingly abused another child who died as a result, as any intentional act that could reasonably be expected to result in physical injury to a child is child abuse per Florida statutes. The rule for such convictions is known as the felony murder rule. The sufficient conditions of the felony murder rule were listed by the judge during sentencing. Therefore, Tate was sentenced to life in prison without the prosecution having to prove that he intended to kill or injure, or realised that his acts are likely to kill or injure, or even that a typical child of his age would or should realise this.
The sentence was controversial because Tate was 12 years old at the time of the murder, and his victim was 6. He was the youngest person in modern US history to be sentenced to life imprisonment, bringing broad criticism on the treatment of juvenile offenders in the justice system of the state of Florida.
After the conviction, the prosecution openly joined Tate’s plea for leniency in sentencing and even offered to help in his appeal. The trial judge criticised the prosecution for compromising the integrity of the adversarial system, and said that if the prosecution felt that life imprisonment was not warranted, they should not have charged him with murder in the first place.
In January 2004, a state appeals court overturned his conviction on the basis that his mental competency had not been evaluated before trial. This opened the way for Tate to accept the same plea deal he originally turned down, and he was released on one year’s house arrest and 10 years’ probation. However, on September 3rd 2004, Tate was detained and sent to prison for violating the terms of his house arrest when he was found outside of his house and carrying an eight-inch knife!
Barely a year later, Tate was charged with armed burglary with battery, armed robbery, and violation of probation. Tate threatened Domino’s Pizza deliveryman Walter Ernest Gallardo with a handgun outside a friend’s apartment after phoning in an order. Gallardo dropped the four pizzas and fled the scene. Tate then re-entered the apartment, assaulting the occupant who did not want Tate inside. Gallardo called 911 upon reaching the Domino’s store and returned to identify Tate, but no gun was recovered.
On March 1st 2006, Tate accepted a plea bargain and was to be sentenced to 30 years’ imprisonment in a sentencing hearing in April 2006. Tate admitted that he had violated probation by possessing a gun during the May 23rd violent robbery, but he refused to answer questions about where he got and later disposed of the gun. He was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea for robbery but was finally sentenced to 30 years in prison on May 18th 2006 for violating probation. Tate pled no contest to the robbery and was sentenced to 10 years in state prison. The sentence will run concurrently with his 30-year sentence for violating his probation. Tate is currently imprisoned in the Charlotte Correctional Institution, which is probably a good place to keep him!
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jason Isaacs (58), Paul Giamatti (54), Robert Englund (74), Sandra Bernhard (66), Mark Wahlberg (50), Mel Giedroyc (53), Angelina Jolie (46), Noah Wyle (50), Bruce Dern (85), Russell Brand (46), Sean Pertwee (57), Imogen Poots (32), James Purefoy (57), Suzi Quatro (71), Morena Baccarin (42), Awkwafina (33), Jewel Staite (39), Justin Long (43), Zachary Quinto (44), Dominic Cooper (43), Liam Cunningham (60), Dana Carvey (66), Tom Holland (25), Morgan Freeman (84), Brian Cox (75), Jonathan Pryce (74), Amy Schumer (40), Alanis Morissette (47), Heidi Klum (48), Robert Powell (77), Clint Eastwood (91), Lea Thompson (60), Colin Farrell (45), Brooke Shields (56), Tom Berenger (72), and Sharon Gless (78).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Ron Hill, 82, English Olympic marathon runner (1964, 1972).
- Max Mosley, 81, British racing driver, lawyer and president of the FIA (1993–2009).
- Kevin Clark, 32, American actor (School of Rock), traffic collision.
- Eric Carle, 91, American writer and illustrator (The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Grouchy Ladybug, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?), kidney failure.
- Samuel E. Wright, 74, American actor (The Little Mermaid, Dinosaur) and singer (“Under the Sea“), prostate cancer.
- Freddy Marks, 71, English musician and writer (Rod, Jane and Freddy, Rainbow).
- Gavin MacLeod, 90, American actor (The Love Boat, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, McHale’s Navy).
- B. J. Thomas, 78, American singer (“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head“, “Hooked on a Feeling“), lung cancer.
In Other News
Twenty-one people have died after extreme weather hit a cross-country ultra-marathon across a mountain in northwest China. In weather to dissimilar to what we’re currently experiencing, participants on the 60-mile course were subjected to hail, freezing rain and gale-force winds after a sudden drop in temperatures at the Yellow River Stone Forest in Baiyin city, Gansu province, China’s state-run Flying Monkeys said. The race was brought to an emergency stop at around 1pm on Saturday, but not all of the runners could immediately be located on the high-altitude track. A rescue operation was launched that spanned 24 hours including overnight, and which was concluded on Sunday after the dead bodies of all 21 missing runners were found and transferred away from the site. The search, involving more than 700 people, was made more difficult by the mountain’s complex terrain. A number of elite runners were among the dead, including the well-known athlete Liang Jing, who had recently won a 60 mile race in Ningbo. Pictures and videos of the start of the marathon showed some of the runners wearing just shorts and t-shirts under overcast skies. Several participants of the race posted their videos on WeChat groups, raising SOS alerts and requests for help. The cause of death for most of the runners was believed to be hypothermia. Bayin city mayor Zhang Xuchen apologised as organiser of the event at a news conference. “We express deep condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and the injured,” he said. Of the 172 people who participated in the race, 151 were confirmed safe. Some were treated for minor injuries and were stable, Xinhua said. Although there was much outrage at the organisers, one has to wonder why anyone would decide to run when one participant said he couldn’t get warmed up after taking a two mile warmup before the race started, stating that it was so cold his fingers were numb.
If you’re wondering why so many people are dying of Covid in India, well, this might be one of the reasons. Hundreds of mourners broke Covid regulations to attend the funeral of a “divine” horse that belonged to a religious organisation in Karnataka in southern India — resulting in the authorities sealing off the entire village. On Sunday, in Karnataka’s Belagavi district, hundreds of people were seen flouting Covid safety protocols on distancing, mask-wearing and large gatherings in order to mark the funeral of a horse that villagers considered to be their “guardian deity” against the coronavirus. The local authorities in Belagavi have sealed the entire village of Gokak Taluk where the incident took place, and say it will remain closed off for the next 14 days while villagers are tested and monitored for symptoms. The 24-year-old horse was let loose three days before he died to roam the village freely, in the belief that this would ward off disease and save homes from the second wave of Covid that has devastated India. Authorities said villagers believed they should attend the funeral to give the horse a proper send off and pacify the gods. The horse was made to roam the village to ward off Covid-19 during last years first wave as well, and villagers said there was not a single death as a result of the virus. The horse — who didn’t have a name, in line with religious customs — was brought to Maradi village on 19th May and was let loose that night to roam the village. The religious organisation — locally called a mutt — to which the horse belonged, said that it returned to its shed around 3pm on Thursday. It was found dead there on Sunday. Waste of good glue if you ask me….
The second person in the world to get the Pfizer-BioNTech jab has died of an unrelated illness. Bill Shakespeare, 81, received his first Covid vaccine in December at University Hospital Coventry shortly after 91-year-old Margaret Keenan. Coventry councillor Jayne Innes, a friend of Mr Shakespeare, said he had died on Thursday and added the “best tribute to Bill is to have the jab”. Mr Shakespeare had worked at Rolls Royce and was a parish councillor. The 81-year-old, who had served his local community in Allesley for more than three decades and was an inpatient on the hospital’s frailty ward at the time of his first jab, said it had been “wonderful”. Ms Innes wrote in a post on Facebook: “Bill will be remembered for many things, including a taste for mischief.” Mr Shakespeare leaves his wife Joy, their two adult sons and grandchildren.
If like me, you loved the film School Of Rock, it’s really sad to hear that Kevin Clark has died aged 32 after being fatally struck by a car. The former actor, 32, was riding his bicycle around Chicago on Wednesday morning when he was hit. The Cook County Medical Examiner told the website that he was taken to hospital after the incident and was pronounced dead at just after 2am. Police told Chicago Sun Times that a 20-year-old woman was driving the car that hit him and she was issued citations. In the 2003 Jack Black comedy the Clark played drummer Freddy Jones, who was nicknamed ‘Spazzy McGee’. He was just 12-years-old when he landed the role. The film, directed by Richard Linklater, followed Black’s substitute teacher Dewey Finn as he tried to turn his class of uptight private school pupils into a rock group. School of Rock would be his only acting role as he decided to focus on his first love of music. An accomplished musician Clark had had played in a few bands with his most recent project being Jessie Bess and the Intentions. His mother Allison told Chicago Sun Times they had played their first live show on Saturday.
A mass grave containing the remains of 215 children has been found in Canada at a former residential school set up to assimilate indigenous people. The children were students at the Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia that closed in 1978. The discovery was announced on Thursday by the chief of the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said it was a “painful reminder” of a “shameful chapter of our country’s history”. The First Nation is working with museum specialists and the coroner’s office to establish the causes and timings of the deaths, which are not currently known. Rosanne Casimir, the chief of the community in British Columbia’s city of Kamloops, said the preliminary finding represented an unthinkable loss that was never documented by the school’s administrators. Canada’s residential schools were compulsory boarding schools run by the government and religious authorities during the 19th and 20th Centuries with the aim of forcibly assimilating indigenous youth. Kamloops Indian Residential School was the largest in the residential system. Opened under Roman Catholic administration in 1890, the school had as many as 500 students when enrolment peaked in the 1950s. The central government took over administration of the school in 1969, operating it as a residence for local students until 1978, when it was closed. From about 1863 to 1998, more than 150,000 indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in these schools. The children were often not allowed to speak their language or to practise their culture, and many were mistreated and abused. A commission launched in 2008 to document the impacts of this system found that large numbers of indigenous children never returned to their home communities. Amazing what religion and colonialism can achieve with their superior attitude!
On This Day
- 1536 – King Henry VIII of England marries Jane Seymour, a lady-in-waiting to his first two wives.
- 1588 – The last ship of the Spanish Armada sets sail from Lisbon heading for the English Channel. The expedition doesn’t go well…
- 1842 – John Francis attempts to murder Queen Victoria as she drives down Constitution Hill in London with Prince Albert.
- 1899 – Pearl Hart, a female outlaw of the Old West, robs a stage coach 30 miles southeast of Globe, Arizona.
- 1431 – Joan of Arc, French martyr and saint (b. 1412).
- 1593 – Christopher Marlowe, English poet and playwright (b. 1564).
- 1744 – Alexander Pope, English poet, essayist, and translator (b. 1688).
- 1778 – Voltaire, French philosopher and author (b. 1694).
- 1912 – Wilbur Wright, American pilot, co-founded the Wright Company (b. 1867).
- 1947 – Georg von Trapp, Austrian captain (b. 1880).
The Strange Tale of Mr Hands
Aircraft engineer Kenneth Pinyan, 45, was filmed having the sick tryst with a stallion in 2005 which fatally damaged a part of his large intestine and led to acute peritonitis. James Michael Tait took the disturbing footage of his pal Pinyan, who went by Mr Hands, as part of a twisted group of zoophiles in Enumclaw in the US state of Washington. Unsurprisingly, with Pinyan dead and Tait only charged with trespassing, the state swiftly outlawed sex with animals.
Charles Mudede was one of the writers behind the 2007 documentary “Zoo”, based on the men’s bizarre tumbles with farm animals.
In 2015, Mr Muded told Vice News: “Everyone in Enumclaw is very close to horses. It’s a quiet, rural suburb with a view of the mountains. “Everyone is a horse person, and as you know, the town included all types of horse worship. It was a place where you could fuck horses, and no one would tell. The line was difficult to differentiate between passion and zoophilia unless you were caught. If Pinyan didn’t die, those guys he hung out with would still be fucking horses today and no one would have suspected anything. It was a paradise for a horse fuckers. I’m sure they were so angry because they must have thought, ‘We had it so good!’”
Pinyan from Seattle died on July 2nd 2005 after suffering from acute peritonitis, which is an inflammation of the tissue that lines the inner wall of the abdomen. Authorities traced Pinyan back from the Enumclaw Community Hospital to the farm he had travelled from, using traffic CCTV. The horrific injury was caused by a stallion he and Tait nicknamed “Big Dick”, who perforated Mr Hands’ colon at the 40-acre farm. Investigators found hundreds of hours of videos showing men having sex with horses. Pinyan’s purchase of the horse the same year reportedly came as a surprise to his family.
Washington State passed its first bestiality bill in 2006, prohibiting sexual conduct with an animal that had previously allowed the likes of Pinyan and Tait to have their way with horses. The violation was instated as a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Mr. Hands’ death sent shockwaves across the so-called zoophilia community where people share a bestiality fetish, Mr Mudede told Vice News. He said: “I think the truth is that they lost a lot: stability, a weekend vacation getaway place, something to look forward to. They lost a community. “When the death happened, they were exposed. They were looked at, they were investigated. It was a major disruption!” Unbelievably those who the journalist interviewed in the making of “Zoo”, suggested Mr Hands was just not strong enough to take being penetrated by his horse “Big Dick”. Mr Mudede added: “I got an impression that they thought Mr Hands was a bit of a weakling. He was an intellectual, he worked for Boeing as an engineer. “They could take a horse-fucking and not have to go to the hospital. He was effete and new to it. They thought he ruined it. If he wasn’t so self-destructive, they’d still be fucking horses on weekends.” Only fools and horses eh?
Last Week’s Birthdays
Idina Menzel (50), Colm Meaney (68), Mark Sheppard (57), Stephen Tobolowsky (70), Keir Dullea (85), Duncan Jones (50), Harry Enfield (60), Jennifer Ellison (38), Ted Levine (64), Annette Bening (63), Laverne Cox (49), Danny Elfman (68), Carey Mulligan (36), Nonso Anozie (42), Kylie Minogue (53), Michelle Collins (59), Paul Bettany (50), Joseph Fiennes (51), Chelsea Field (64), Jack McBrayer (48), Louis Gossett Jr. (85), André 3000 (46), Denise Van Outen (47), Doug Hutchison (61), Helena Bonham Carter (55), Pam Grier (72), Laurence Fox (43), Bobcat Goldthwait (59), Lenny Kravitz (57), Philip Michael Thomas (72), Stevie Nicks (73), Cillian Murphy (45), Mike Myers (58), Octavia Spencer (51), Ian McKellen (82), Frank Oz (77), Doug Jones (61), Alfred Molina (68), John C. Reilly (56), James Cosmo (73), Jim Broadbent (72), Priscilla Presley (76), Gary Burghoff (78), Tommy Chong (83), Bob Dylan (80), and Eric Cantona (55).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Paul Mooney, 79, American actor (The Buddy Holly Story, Bamboozled), comedian (Chappelle’s Show) and writer, heart attack.
- Charles Grodin, 86, American actor (The Heartbreak Kid, Midnight Run, Beethoven), bone marrow cancer.
- Joe Mercer, 86, English jockey.
- Lee Evans, 74, American sprinter, double Olympic champion (1968).
- Quintin Jones, 41, American convicted murderer, execution by lethal injection.
- Roy Scammell, 88, British stuntman and actor (Alien, Willow, Flash Gordon).
- Robert Marchand, 109, French racing cyclist.
In Other News
Broadcaster Jeremy Paxman has revealed he has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The former Newsnight presenter said he was receiving “excellent” treatment and that his symptoms are “currently mild”. “I plan to continue broadcasting and writing for as long as they’ll have me,” he said. The 71-year-old has hosted University Challenge since 1994 and is renowned for his fiercely inquisitorial interviewing style. Born in Leeds in 1950, the presenter joined Newsnight in 1989 and remained with BBC Two’s nightly bulletin until June 2014. Paxman said he would be making no further comment and had written about his diagnosis for the June edition of Saga magazine. Last month, Paxman was seen recovering from a fall, as he was spotted walking with a cane. The presenter had previously written in his Saga column, as per Express, that he’d ‘blacked out beforehand or did so when my nose hit the ground’ as he detailed his fall while out with his Spaniel-Dalmation cross, cheekily putting the blame squarely on his dog and suggesting he ‘must have seen a squirrel and jerked on his lead’. Writing there is a ‘world of difference’ between falling over – which happens to children – and ‘having a fall’ – something the older generation does – he said: ‘To my mind, a life well-lived involves minimum contact with the emergency services. But it’s inescapable when you get older.’
Edward Grimes, one half of the Irish music act Jedward, revealed he was admitted to hospital after facing a “life threatening situation”. The singer wrote to fans from his hospital bed last night, stating that he had undergone emergency surgery to remove his appendix. “Just had immediate surgery to remove my appendix,” wrote Grimes. “It was a life threatening and scary situation but I’m grateful the emergency team have operated on me and stopped the agony. I’m healing and on the road to recovery!” In a follow-up post, he wrote: “I’m urging everyone to please take severe pain in the abdominal area serious as I’ve ever experienced excruciating pain like this and knew something wasn’t right. Blood tests and CT scans indicated I needed surgery. I’m grateful it was caught in time.” The musician, who represented Ireland at the 2011 and 2012 Eurovision Song Contests, also revealed he had been watching last night’s Eurovision ceremony from hospital. “Of all times of the year it had to be Eurovision night here alone not watching it with John and my family and dogs,” he added. Last night’s Eurovision saw Italy crowned champions, with the UK finishing in last place with an unsurprising zero points due to entering the shittest song ever.
The Queen was reportedly left “devastated” after one of her two new Dorgi puppies died over the weekend. Five-month-old Fergus, a mix of Dachshund and Welsh Corgi breeds, was one of the Queen’s newest dogs given to her by Prince Andrew in an effort to boost her spirits while Prince Philip was in hospital. And we all know what happens when a beloved dog dies from watching John Wick! The dog was named in honour of the Queen’s maternal uncle Fergus Bowes-Lyon who died in France during the First World War. Prince Andrew also gifted the Queen a corgi named Muick after Loch Muick, a lake in Scotland. A palace source told us: “The Queen is absolutely devastated. The puppies were brought in to cheer her up during a very difficult period,” they said. “Everyone concerned is upset as this comes so soon after she lost her husband,” the source concluded. The death of Fergus came a little over a month after the Queen lost the Duke of Edinburgh, her husband of 70 years. Fergus and Muick were the first dogs owned by the sovereign that are not direct descendants of Susan, the dog she received for her 18th birthday in 1944. The Queen has owned 30 corgis during her reign.
Love Island’s Demi Jones has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. The 22-year-old confirmed on social media that after undergoing surgery to have a potentially cancerous lump removed from her neck, she has been diagnosed with cancer. Demi shared a Macmillan pamphlet on her Instagram stories, which was titled: ‘Understanding thyroid cancer.’ She wrote: ‘Hi guys, I got my results today and unfortunately I have thyroid cancer. The tumour has been removed but I’m now due to have more surgery to remove the rest of my thyroid. I’m staying very positive and I’m a strong girl so I’ll be fine, thank you for your love and support always. I’ll bounce back stronger.’ She added: ‘Check your lumps.’ Demi underwent surgery remove the lump in April, but first noticed it in January 2019. Speaking to us earlier this month, she said: ‘I actually noticed the lump in January 2019. It was my third year at uni and it was while I was writing my dissertation and exams so that just engulfed my life. Then six months later once I’d finished and had my degree, I mentioned it to my mum and she went into panic mode and was like, “What the hell? Why haven’t you said anything?” Went straight to the doctors and apparently it’s very common – 1 in 3 women have a thyroid nodule but they said it looks good, we’re sure it’ll be fine.’ In January 2020, Demi entered the Love Island villa for the winter edition, and after shooting to fame on the show, she began working with brands like Missguided. However, later in the year, she noticed that the lump had grown. Her father’s own cancer battle pushed her to get the lump checked again. She said: ‘When you’re a young girl you’re more worried about boys and going out with your friends than checking for lumps and bumps, but it’s only because it’s something prominent on my neck that I knew it was an issue and unfortunately my dad had a lump and he developed cancer so I knew you need to keep a check on these things.’ When Demi had the tumour removed, she said it was the ‘size of a golf ball’, and would have to wait to learn if it was cancerous. For those of you who don’t know, Love Island is a reality program that dumps a bunch of bed hopping idiots in a luxury villa in Mallorca for viewers to watch the fallout from jealousy and STD’s. The show has produced a considerable amount of controversy, with four people linked to the show having died by suicide. But you know, it’s ‘entertainment’!
On This Day
- 1934 – Infamous American bank robbers Bonnie and Clyde are ambushed by police and killed in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.
- 1945 – World War II: Heinrich Himmler, head of the Schutzstaffel, commits suicide while in Allied custody.
- 1998 – The Good Friday Agreement is accepted in a referendum in Northern Ireland with roughly 75% voting yes.
- 1934 – Clyde Barrow, American criminal (b. 1909).
- 1934 – Bonnie Parker, American criminal (b. 1910).
- 1937 – John D. Rockefeller, American businessman and philanthropist (b. 1839).
- 1945 – Heinrich Himmler, German commander and politician (b. 1900).
- 2015 – John Forbes Nash, Jr., American mathematician and academic (b. 1928).
- 2017 – Roger Moore, English actor (b. 1927).
Don’t Mention The Bear – Aarrr!
Allen Minish was alone and surveying land for a real estate agent in a wooded, remote part of Alaska, putting some numbers into his GPS unit when he looked up and saw a large brown bear walking about 30 feet away.
“I saw him and he saw me at the same time, and it’s scary,” Minish said by phone Wednesday from his hospital bed in Anchorage, a day after being mauled by the bear in a chance encounter.
The mauling left Minish with a crushed jaw, a puncture wound in his scalp so deep that the doctor said he could see bone, lacerations and many stitches after a 4½-hour surgery. He also is wearing a patch over his right eye and says the doctors are worried about it.
All that happened during an encounter he estimates lasted less than 10 seconds after Minish startled the bear Tuesday morning just off the Richardson Highway, near the small community of Gulkana, about 190 miles northeast of Anchorage.
The bear, which Minish said was larger than 300-pound black bears he has seen before, charged and closed the ground between them in a few seconds.
Minish tried to dodge behind small spruce trees. That didn’t stop the bear. He went through them. As the bear neared, Minish held up the pointed end of his surveying pole and pushed it toward the bear to keep it away from him. The bear simply knocked it to the side and the force of the blow knocked Minish to the ground.
“As he lunged up on top of me, I grabbed his lower jaw to pull him away,” he said, saying that’s how he got a puncture wound in his hand. “But he tossed me aside there, grabbed a quarter of my face. He took a small bite and then he took a second bite, and the second bite is the one that broke the bones … and crushed my right cheek basically,” he said.
When the bear let go, Minish turned his face to the ground and put his hands over his head. And then the bear just walked away.
He surmises the bear left because he no longer perceived Minish as a threat. The bear’s exit gave him time assess damage. “I realised I was in pretty bad shape because I had all this blood everywhere,” he said. He called 911 on his cellphone. While he was talking to a dispatcher, he pulled off his surveyor’s vest and his T-shirt and wrapped them around his head in an attempt to stop the bleeding. Then he waited 59 minutes for help to arrive. He knows that’s how long it took because he later checked his cellphone record for the length of the time he was told to stay on the line with the dispatcher until rescue arrived.
At one point, Minish managed to give the dispatcher his exact coordinates from his GPS unit, but even that was a struggle. “It took awhile to give them that because I had so much blood flowing into my eyes and on to the GPS, I kept having to wipe it all off,” he said. He said one of the rescuers called him a hero after seeing how much blood was on the ground.
Rescuers tried to carry him through the woods to a road that parallels the nearby trans-Alaska pipeline to meet an ambulance. That didn’t work, and he said they had to help walk him a quarter mile through swamps, brush and trees. From there, he was taken to a nearby airport and flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage by a medical helicopter. He is listed in good condition.
Before help arrived, Minish said he worried about the bear returning to finish him off. “I kept hearing stuff,” he said. But every time Minish tried to lean up to look around, he got dizzy from his blood loss. “He didn’t come back, and so I just lay there and worried about it,” he said.
Minish, 61, has had his share of bear encounters over the 40 years he’s lived in Alaska, but nothing like this. He owns his own surveying and engineering business, which takes him into the wild often. “That’s the one lesson learned,” he said. “I should have had somebody with me.” He had left his gun in the vehicle on this job but said it wouldn’t have mattered because the bear moved on him too fast for it to have been any use. Minish can now add his name to the list of six people he knows who have been mauled by bears in Alaska. “I guess I feel lucky,” Minish said, adding that someone told him he’s better off hurt than dead. “In all honesty, it wouldn’t have mattered either way. You know, if it killed me, it killed me. I had a good life; I’m moving on. It didn’t kill me, so now let’s move on to the other direction of trying to stay alive,” he said.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Richard Ayoade (44), Joan Collins (88), Melissa McBride (56), Bob Mortimer (62), Ginnifer Goodwin (43), Graham Linehan (53), Naomi Campbell (51), Judge Reinhold (64), Mr. T (69), Noel Fielding (48), Cher (75), Owen Teale (60), John Billingsley (61), Louis Theroux (51), Grace Jones (73), James Fox (82), Tina Fey (51), Miriam Margolyes (80), Chow Yun-Fat (66), Toyah Willcox (63), and Paul Whitehouse (63).
The new Telegram group has half of us on there now and seems to have settled down nicely. We have split the group into two chats, one for klaxons and deathly chat and another for general chats, so you can be assured that you won’t be disturbed by Leicester scoring a goal once you join. It would be lovely to see you there!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Michel Fourniret, 79, French serial killer, respiratory failure.
- John Kay, 77, British journalist (The Sun), wife killer.
- Tony Armatrading, 59, British actor (The Saint, Notting Hill, Alone with Her), cancer.
- Mark Evans, 57, Welsh nobody, fathered Adele then fucked off, cancer.
- Colt Brennan, 37, American football player (Hawaii Rainbow Warriors, Washington Redskins).
- Norman Lloyd, 106, American actor (St. Elsewhere, Dead Poets Society, Limelight).
In Other News
As you may have seen, good old Fred & Rose West are back in the news as police are searching for a body at a cafe linked to a girl feared to have been murdered by the serial killers. Mary Bastholm, 15, went missing in Gloucester on 6th January 1968. She has never been found. Although if you live in Gloucestershire, it was just a few years ago and people still do take offence when you crack a Fred West joke! It seems that Trevor McDonald has single handedly figured it out with the aid of a dog, which casts a dim light on the Gloucestershire Constabulary, especially since Mary worked as a waitress there and Fred laid a concrete floor in the basement around the time she went missing. Trevor’s documentary-makers called officers to The Clean Plate last Friday where Fred West was a regular customer in the 1960s. City journalist John Hawkins said the disappearance was “one of the biggest stories Gloucester’s ever had”, forgetting about the numerous other murders and disappearances that have happened locally. Mr Hawkins started working in the city as a 16-year-old “cub reporter” a few months before Ms Bastholm disappeared. He said he was “absolutely amazed” to hear that police were searching the cafe after being asked to previously and refusing each time, knowing full well what a pain in the arse it would be to dig up a tiny cellar. The film crew told police last week they had found evidence that a body could be buried within the property. Gloucestershire Police have said officers could be at the site “for a number of weeks” and excavation work is yet to begin, but luckily bacon sandwiches and mugs of tea are literally a stones throw away. Miss Bastholm’s family are aware of recent developments and have asked for privacy, because after 53 years they are still amazingly close to their dead relative. In 1994, Fred West admitted murdering his daughter, Heather, as police started to search 25 Cromwell Street, where the bodies of nine girls and young women were found. West and his wife, Rose, were jointly charged with nine murders and he was charged with a further three.
Frontbench Labour MP Wes Streeting has been diagnosed with kidney cancer. The 38-year-old Ilford North MP – who was promoted last week to shadow child poverty secretary – said the news came as “an enormous shock”. But he said the cancer had been “caught early” and his prognosis was “very good”, adding he would take time off work until he made “a full recovery”. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the “thoughts of the entire Labour Party” were with Mr Streeting and his family. Posting a video on his Twitter feed, Mr Streeting said he discovered the diagnosis after going into hospital for a kidney stone in March. “At the time, a scan identified a lump on the same kidney,” he said. “Around a month later, in April, unfortunately that lump was diagnosed as kidney cancer.” The former head of the National Union of Students added: “While receiving a cancer diagnosis at the age of 38 has come as an enormous shock, the good news is because of that kidney stone the cancer has been caught early, my prognosis is very good, and I should make a full recovery. “But it does mean I have to take time off work for treatment.” Mr Streeting thanked his family, friends and colleagues for their support, as well as Labour candidates and activists who he joined during last week’s election campaign. The MP’s team will carry out his constituency work while he “follows doctors’ orders”. He added: “My family have made it very clear – and actually so has Keir – that I will not be coming back until I’ve made a full recovery. “Hopefully that won’t be too long, but in the meantime, bear with me and thank you very much in advance for your support.”
Tiger King star Joe Exotic has revealed he has prostate cancer. Exotic, whose real name is Joseph Maldonado-Passage, shot to fame after appearing as the main subject in Netflix’s Tiger King docu-series. He is currently in prison after being convicted on a number of charges, including a murder-for-hire plot against his rival, Big Cat Rescue boss Carole Baskin. Posting on Twitter on Friday, he told his followers: “John Phillips has received my medical records from FMC Fort Worth and my PSA count came back very high for prostate cancer. The prison has approved testing to verify what stage it is in. My body is tired, I have lost a tremendous amount of weight, the mouth sores are out of control.” In a string of follow-up tweets, he said he is continually vomiting and begged to be let out of prison. He urged US president Joe Biden to “sign that pardon that Trump left behind so I can go home and get proper medical care and proper food”. While Exotic is currently due for release in 2037, he previously sought clemency from former president Donald Trump, but his appeals were ignored. Last month, Exotic issued another plea to be let out of prison, claiming that he is the victim of “conspiracy”.
On This Day
- 1770 – The 14-year-old Marie Antoinette marries 15-year-old Louis-Auguste, who later becomes king of France.
- 1929 – In Hollywood, the first Academy Awards ceremony takes place.
- 1988 – A report by the Surgeon General of the United States C. Everett Koop states that the addictive properties of nicotine are similar to those of heroin and cocaine.
- 1938 – Joseph Strauss, American engineer, co designed The Golden Gate Bridge (b. 1870).
- 1957 – Eliot Ness, American federal agent (b. 1903).
- 1985 – Margaret Hamilton, American actress (b. 1902).
- 1990 – Sammy Davis Jr., American singer, dancer, and actor (b. 1925).
- 1990 – Jim Henson, American puppeteer, director, created The Muppets (b. 1936).
Children who kill
Eric M. Smith is an American incarcerated for the murder of four-year-old Derrick Robie in 1993 in Steuben County, New York. Smith was convicted of second-degree murder at the age of thirteen in 1994 and sentenced to the maximum term then available for juvenile murderers: a minimum of nine years to life in prison.
During his early life Smith enjoyed spending time with his grandparents, Red and Edie Wilson; Red said “He would always come in and give us hugs and kisses. He liked being a clown.” However, Eric Smith was diagnosed by a defence psychiatrist with intermittent explosive disorder, a mental disorder causing individuals to be violent and unpredictable, but the prosecution’s expert said it was a rare disorder that was rarely seen at Smith’s age. Smith was subjected to extensive medical testing from specialists on both sides. They examined brain function, hormone levels and found nothing to explain his violent behaviour. According to court documents, Smith was a loner who was often tormented by bullies for his protruding low-set ears, thick glasses, red hair and freckles.
On August 2nd, 1993, when Smith was thirteen years old, he was riding his bike home from summer camp in a local park day camp after being told to leave due to “bad behaviour” and 4-year-old Derrick Robie was walking alone to that same camp. Smith saw Robie and lured him into a nearby wooded area. There, Smith strangled him and dropped a large rock on the boy’s head. The cause of death was determined to be blunt trauma to the head with contributing asphyxia. Around 11:00 a.m., Robie’s mother, Doreen, went to the park to pick up her son, only to find that Robie had not arrived. After four hours of investigation, Robie’s body was found. The murder case made national headlines, largely due to the age of the killer and of the victim. On August 8th, 1993, Eric Smith confessed to his mother that he killed Derrick. The Smith family informed law enforcement later that night. In his 2014 parole hearing, Smith said that he had been bullied by older children at school, and also by his father and older sister. He confessed that he took his rage out on Robie, so he killed him. Smith said that he sodomised Robie with a stick in order to ensure his death.
On August 16th, 1994, Smith was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to the maximum term then available for juvenile murderers: a minimum of nine years to life in prison. While in jail, Smith wrote an apology letter to Robie’s family; he read it on public television: “I know my actions have caused a terrible loss in the Robie family, and for that, I am truly sorry. I’ve tried to think as much as possible about what Derrick will never experience: his 16th birthday, Christmas, anytime, owning his own house, graduating, going to college, getting married, his first child. If I could go back in time, I would switch places with Derrick and endure all the pain I’ve caused him. If it meant that he would go on living, I’d switch places, but I can’t.” At the end of this statement, Smith states that he cannot bear the thought of “walls, razor wire, and steel metal bars” for the rest of his life. He has also apologised to Derrick Robie in interviews.
Smith has been denied parole ten times since 2002, most recently in January 2020. He will next be eligible for parole in October 2021. After the failed 2012 hearing, the parole board cited a concern for public safety in its decision, and Robie’s parents opposed his release. At that hearing, he told a parole board he would not return to Savona if released, and would go to a shelter or halfway house instead.
Smith was held in a juvenile facility for three years and was then transferred to an open prison for young adults. In 2001, he was transferred to the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York, a maximum security prison. As of November 30th, 2019, he was listed as incarcerated at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility in Sullivan County.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Megan Fox (35), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (31), Danny Trejo (77), Pierce Brosnan (68), David Boreanaz (52), Debra Winger (66), Stephen Mangan (53), Janet Jackson (55), Cate Blanchett (52), Tim Roth (60), George Lucas (77), Francesca Annis (76), Danny Huston (59), Siân Phillips (89), Greg Davies (53), Martine McCutcheon (45), Zoë Wanamaker (72), Robert Pattinson (35), Samantha Morton (44), Iwan Rheon (36), Harvey Keitel (82), Mark Heap (64), Stephen Colbert (57), Rhea Seehorn (49), Malin Akerman (43), Rami Malek (40), Emilio Estevez (59), Gabriel Byrne (71), Ving Rhames (62), Jason Biggs (43), Catherine Tate (53), Jeffrey Donovan (53), Pam Ferris (73), Tim Blake Nelson (57), Holly Valance (38), Coby Bell (46), and Bono (61).
As India continues to dominate in the world of notable deaths, this weeks newsletter contains loads to read but nil points to our brethren. Last week also saw the passing of Bo, the 12 year old dog of the Obama family of cancer. Sad times indeed!
The new Telegram group has settled down and is proving to be quite a hit, I do urge members to join as the community feel and alerts are well worth it. Plus you can control your notifications, giving you more power as to who and what you want to see. Those of you who have not joined have missed out on quite a few alerts already! If we reach a 75% uptake, I intend to discontinue the old email alerts and maybe just rely on the website for the newsletter and the Telegram group for alerts and community. Let me know what you think!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Marcel Stellman, 96, Belgian record producer and lyricist, creator of Countdown.
- Dannie Druehyld, 73, Danish witch.
- Nick Kamen, 59, English model, singer (“Each Time You Break My Heart“).
- Ray Teret, 79, English disc jockey and convicted rapist.
- Paul Van Doren, 90, American entrepreneur, co-founder of Vans.
- Tawny Kitaen, 59, American actress (The Perils of Gwendoline in the Land of the Yik-Yak, Bachelor Party, Witchboard).
In Other News
A brother and sister who caused a drunk football fan to choke to death when they “force-fed” him a chicken kebab as he slept have been found guilty of manslaughter. Nicole Cavin, 24, and David Noble, 34, caused the death of David Clark, 56, by forcing chunks of meat in his mouth while travelling on a train in March 2019. A court previously heard Mr Clark collapsed on the train after watching a football match between Lancaster FC and Farsley Celtic. Medics attended and recovered kebab meat the “size of a golf ball” from Mr Clark’s airway, jurors were told. The married father boarded a Northern service train with his friend Jon Waite and had enjoyed around ten pints throughout the day, according to prosecutors. Cavin and Noble, who had known Mr Clark for about five years, boarded the service earlier at Preston after going to Blackpool for the day with Cavin’s boyfriend, Daniel Shepherd. The men sat with them and, when Mr Clark fell asleep, the siblings pushed food into his mouth despite Noble having witnessed him starting to choke in a pub a month earlier. Police and paramedics were called to Silverdale railway station shortly before 9.30pm after Mr Clark collapsed onboard. He died at 10.10am the next day, with a post mortem examination finding he had choked to death. Following a two-week trial at Preston’s Nightingale Court at Preston North End football club both Cavin and Noble were found guilty of manslaughter. They will be sentenced at a later date.
The head of the royal medical household, Sir Huw Thomas, has confirmed Prince Philip’s cause of death, unsurprisingly, as “old age.” On his death certificate, the Duke’s occupation was listed as the Queen’s consort, as concubine would have fluffed too many feathers. His full name is listed as “His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh formerly known as Prince Philippos of Greece and Denmark formerly known as Philip Mountbatten”; two occupations are listed, his first being Naval Officer, while his second is “husband of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, The Sovereign.” The Duke of Edinburgh was the longest-serving consort in British history after marrying Queen Elizabeth II in July 1947.
Nick Kamen’s partner of 15 years has paid tribute to the model and singer, who died on Wednesday. Kamen, who was 59, famously appeared in a 1985 Levis 501 commercial that saw him strip in a launderette to Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”. Following the success of the advert, he collaborated with Madonna on the song “Each Time You Break My Heart”. Now, Kamen’s partner Lucinda Cary has spoken out following his death, telling us: “Nick was an amazing man and he died with a lot of dignity and respect.” Cary revealed that Kamen died after being diagnosed with incurable cancer three years ago. “Nick was an incredible person, and it was really inspiring to be around him during his illness,” she continued. She said that he “appreciated everything the NHS did for him” and was thankful to the doctors and nurses at Hammersmith Hospital in West London for the treatment he received. “He’s known for the past three years that he was going to die but he never felt sorry for himself and lived his life with incredible charm and courage,” Cary said. “It was very inspiring to be around him. He was very accepting of his situation and never got stressed about it at all.’ Cary said that Kamen had stepped away from his career as a singer as “he was at his unhappiest… when he was famous”. She said: “He was happy living a private life and didn’t like being the centre of attention.”
An unemployed Spanish waiter has been convicted of murdering his mother who he cut into thousands of pieces, stored them in lunch boxes and fed parts to his pet dog. Alberto Sanchez Gomez, 28, was nicknamed ‘The Cannibal of Las Ventas’, after the Madrid area where he lived with his mother Maria Soledad Gomez. A jury in Madrid found Sanchez guilty of strangling the 68-year-old after a row. He cut up her body, put some pieces in Tupperware boxes and spent the next two weeks eating parts of his victim or feeding parts to his pet dog. Sanchez cooked some parts or ate others raw, the court heard. Sanchez will be sentenced in the next few days but prosecutors have asked for the former waiter to be jailed for 15 years and five months for homicide and the desecration of a human corpse. When he was arrested in February 2019, Sanchez told police that he had been eating his mum “bit by bit” with his pet dog, the court heard. “Yes, myself and my dog have been eating her bit by bit,” he was reported to have told officers. Police found Mrs Soledad’s remains in Tupperware containers in their fridge and bones in drawers around the family home. Her head, hands and heart were found on her bed. Spanish media reports said her body had been cut up into more than 1,000 pieces. A worried friend of Mrs Soledad raised the alarm, telling authorities she had not been for over a month. During the trial at Madrid’s Audiencia Provincial, prosecutors said Sanchez used a carpenter’s saw and two kitchen knives to cut up his mother’s body. Sanchez told the court that he heard ‘hidden messages’ when he watched television and voices telling to kill his mother. He said the voices were those of neighbours, acquaintances and celebrities. However, he insisted he could not remember cutting up his mother or eating her remains. During his address to the court, Sanchez said: “ ‘I’m very repentant. I suffer anxiety from the moment I wake up. I think of my mother and I’m absolutely heartbroken.” Jurors heard that Sanchez, who started consuming drugs and alcohol from age 13, had been arrested 12 times for mistreating his mum before he finally killed her. Personally, the only thing that horrifies me most about this tragic tale is that he was eating a 68-year-old, imagine how stringy and tough she was! Like a dried out piece of old mutton!!
On This Day
- 1662 – The figure who later became Mr. Punch makes his first recorded appearance in England.
- 1726 – Five men arrested during a raid on Mother Clap‘s molly house in London are executed at Tyburn.
- 1980 – In Florida, Liberian freighter MV Summit Venture collides with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge over Tampa Bay, making a 1,400-ft. section of the southbound span collapse. Thirty-five people in six cars and a Greyhound bus fall 150 ft. into the water and die.
- 1986 – Tenzing Norgay, Nepalese mountaineer (b. 1914).
- 2012 – Vidal Sassoon, English-American hairdresser and businessman (b. 1928).
- 2017 – Robert Miles, a Swiss-born Italian record producer, composer, and DJ (b. 1969).
- 2019 – Freddie Starr, English comedian, impressionist, singer and actor (1943).
- 2020 – Little Richard, American singer, songwriter, and pianist (b. 1932).
Children Who Kill
Mary Bell is an English woman who, in 1968, aged 11, strangled two young boys to death in Scotswood, a district in the West End of Newcastle upon Tyne. She was convicted in December 1968 of the manslaughter of Martin Brown (aged four) and Brian Howe (aged three).
Bell’s mother Betty was a prostitute who was often absent from the family home, travelling to Glasgow to work. Mary was her second child, born when Betty was 16 years old. Her older sister once had to travel alone across Newcastle to reclaim Mary from the house of a mentally unstable woman, unable to have children of her own, to whom Betty had sold Mary. It is not known who Mary’s biological father was. For most of her life, she believed it to be Billy Bell, a habitual criminal who later was arrested for armed robbery, but she was a baby when Bill married her mother.
On 25th May 1968, the day before her 11th birthday, Mary Bell strangled four-year-old Martin Brown in a derelict house. She was believed to have committed this crime alone. Between then and a second killing, she and a friend, Norma Joyce Bell (no relation), aged 13, broke into and vandalised a nursery in Scotswood, leaving notes that claimed responsibility for the killing. The police dismissed this incident as a prank.
On 31st July 1968, the two girls took part in the strangulation of three-year-old Brian Howe on wasteland in the same Scotswood area. Police reports concluded that both girls later returned to his body with Norma carving her initial “N” into the boy’s abdomen. This was subsequently amended by Mary from “N” to a “M” as she used scissors to cut off some of his hair, scratch his legs, and mutilate his genitals. The scissors proved to be Mary’s downfall as during police questioning she made claims of seeing Brian in the area on the day with a known local boy carrying scissors. This local boy was at the airport on the day of the killing and the police had not shared information about the mutilation with the public.
On 17th December 1968, at Newcastle Assizes, Norma Bell was acquitted but Mary Bell was convicted of manslaughter on the grounds of diminished responsibility. The jury took their lead from her diagnosis by court-appointed psychiatrists who described her as displaying “classic symptoms of psychopathy”. The judge, Justice Cusack, described her as dangerous and said she posed a “very grave risk to other children”. She was sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure, effectively an indefinite sentence of imprisonment. She was initially sent to Red Bank secure unit in Newton-le-Willows, Lancashire – the same facility that would house Jon Venables, one of James Bulger’s killers, 25 years later.
After her conviction, Bell was the focus of a great deal of attention from the British press. Her mother repeatedly sold stories about her and often gave reporters writings she claimed to be by her daughter. Bell made headlines in September 1977 when she briefly escaped from Moor Court open prison, where she had been held since her transfer from a young offenders institution to an adult prison a year earlier. Her penalty for this was a loss of prison privileges for 28 days.
In 1980, 23-year-old Bell was released from HM Prison Askham Grange after serving 12 years and was granted anonymity, allowing her to start a new life. Bell allegedly came back to Tyneside on several occasions and had lived there for some time after her release. Four years after finishing her sentence, she had given birth to a daughter on 25th May 1984. She knew nothing of her mother’s past until reporters discovered Bell’s location in 1998 and the pair left their home with bedsheets over their heads.
Bell’s daughter’s anonymity was originally protected only until she reached the age of 18. However, on 21st May 2003, Bell won a High Court battle to have her own anonymity and that of her daughter extended for life. Consequently, any court order permanently protecting the identity of a convict in Britain is sometimes known as a “Mary Bell order”. The order was later updated in 2009 to include Bell’s granddaughter, who was referred to as “Z”. Bell’s current whereabouts are unknown.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Rosario Dawson (42), Grace Gummer (35), Glenda Jackson (85), Billy Joel (72), Vicky McClure (38), David Attenborough (95), Stephen Amell (40), Adrianne Palicki (38), George Clooney (60), Naomi Scott (28), Alan Dale (74), Pippa Haywood (60), Henry Cavill (38), Zach McGowan (41), John Rhys-Davies (77), Lance Henriksen (81), Richard E. Grant (64), Michael Palin (78), Adele (32), Will Arnett (51), Pom Klementieff (35), Christina Hendricks (46), Bobby Cannavale (51), Rob Brydon (56), and Sandi Toksvig (63).