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:
- 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).
Welcome to a Nickie edition of The Dead Pool Newsletter, as she found most of this weeks stories, well done that woman! Not many notable deaths this week, but reading the listings confirmed that India is in a slight bit of bother with the old Coronavirus, the youngest Indian star I noticed was a 34 year old Bodybuilder. If you knew your Indian celebrities you could have already won the pool this week!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Michael Collins, 90, American astronaut (Apollo 11), cancer.
- Anne Buydens, 102, German-born American philanthropist, widow of Kirk Douglas.
- Olympia Dukakis, 89, American actress (Moonstruck, Steel Magnolias, Tales of the City), Oscar winner (1988).
In Other News
Rolling Stones guitarist Ronnie Wood has revealed he was recently diagnosed with cancer for a second time, but has been given the all-clear. Wood said: “I’ve had cancer two different ways now. I had lung cancer in 2017 and I had small-cell more recently that I fought in the last lockdown … I came through with the all-clear.” Small-cell carcinoma is a type of cancer most commonly found in the lungs. In 2017, he was found to have lung cancer during a routine health check, and underwent a five-hour surgery to have it removed. He turned down chemotherapy: “I wasn’t going to lose my hair. This hair wasn’t going anywhere,” he said later that year. “I said, ‘No way.’ And I just kept the faith it would be all right … I was bloody lucky but then I’ve always had a very strong guardian angel looking out for me. By rights I shouldn’t be here.” He continued touring with the Rolling Stones later that year. “I’m going through a lot of problems now, but throughout my recovery, you have to let it go. And when you hand the outcome over to your higher power, that is a magic thing … What will be will be, it’s nothing to do with me. All I can do is stay positive in my attitude, be strong and fight it, and the rest is up to my higher power.”
I hope you are all feeling very lucky, if not privileged, to live in Britain, as authorities in Delhi have been forced to build makeshift funeral pyres in public parks as India’s capital city runs out of space for coronavirus victims. Social media is flooded with pictures of people burning the bodies of their loved ones who died from Covid-19 alongside many other bodies. As most of the capital’s crematoriums are working beyond their capacity, local news reports show pictures of bodies lined up in a queue at cremation centres and people being forced to wait for more than 20 hours to get space for cremation. As a result, the authorities are forced to create more funeral pyres so people do not have to wait for hours and risk exposure to the virus.
They are building dozens of new pyres at the existing crematoriums including their parking spaces or nearby parks. Reports said officials are also exploring if there is additional space for new pyres near the river bed of the Yamuna river. Staff are also overworked at many of the crematoriums with the cremation taking places from early morning till midnight. As a result family members have been seen helping them pre1pare the pyres – without being able to follow social distancing. Due to the sudden increase in number of deaths, there has been an increase in demand of wood required for the pyres as well. There have also been unconfirmed reports of trees being cut in the city for wood for the funeral pyres. Over the past several weeks, India has seen a massive daily rise in the number of Covid-19 cases. In the last 24 hours, India recorded over 360,000 cases, a global record, and nearly 3,300 deaths. Since the start of the pandemic, India has recorded about 18 million cases including 200,000 deaths – second only to the US. Truly biblical!
A YouTuber whose girlfriend was killed in a sickening live stream has been jailed for causing her death. Trash vlogger ReeFlay – who used the name Stanislav Reshetnikov, 30 was convicted of inflicting grievous bodily harm resulting in death sentenced to six years in a strict penal colony by a Russian court. Valentina ‘Valya’ Grigoryeva, 28, was subjected to live online ‘abuse’ and died of ‘head injuries’. Bullying Reshetnikov was paid by watchers to inflict verbal and physical violence on her in the streaming session in which she died. When he emerged flanked by armed officers to start his sentence, he appeared in tears. In the live stream which led to headlines around the world, he had labelled Grigoryeva a ‘prostitute’ and ‘smelly’. First reports say she died from being locked outside near naked in subzero temperatures – seen live by punters on YouTube and other platforms, but later forensic experts concluded a head injury was the cause of death. When Reshetnikov, 30, allowed her back in, it was clear to viewers that she appeared dead, and one called the emergency services. Her corpse had ‘craniocerebral trauma’ and ‘multiple bruising on the face and haemorrhaging of soft tissues’. ReeFlay ‘testified that on the day in question he hit the deceased several times on the head,’ said a law enforcement source. Psychological and psychiatric examinations of the streamer found him to be ‘sane’ and fit to face trial. He was convicted of ‘intentional infliction of grievous bodily harm, dangerous to human life, committed with the use of an object used as a weapon, resulting in the death of the victim by negligence’. His mother, a sales manager, had said earlier that her son ‘wouldn’t hurt a kitten’ and was ‘very kind’, despite the video evidence showing otherwise!
On This Day
- 1536 – Anne Boleyn, Queen of England, is arrested and imprisoned on charges of adultery, incest, treason and witchcraft. It didn’t end well for her…
- 1982 – Falklands War: The British nuclear submarine HMS Conqueror sinks the Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano.
- 1986 – Chernobyl disaster: The City of Chernobyl is evacuated six days after the disaster!
- 2000 – President Bill Clinton announces that accurate GPS access would no longer be restricted to the United States military.
- 2011 – Osama bin Laden, the suspected mastermind behind the September 11th attacks and the FBI’s most wanted man, is killed by the United States special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
- 1519 – Leonardo da Vinci, Italian painter, sculptor, and architect (b. 1452).
- 1964 – Nancy Astor, Viscountess Astor, American-English politician (b. 1879).
- 1972 – J. Edgar Hoover, American 1st director of the FBI (b. 1895).
- 1990 – David Rappaport, English-American actor (b. 1951).
- 1998 – Justin Fashanu, English footballer (b. 1961).
- 1999 – Oliver Reed, English actor (b. 1938).
- 2011 – Osama bin Laden, Saudi Arabian terrorist, founder of Al-Qaeda (b. 1957).
- 2015 – Ruth Rendell, English author (b. 1930).
Auto-iconism or the Literal Meaning of ‘Get Stuffed!’
On his death in 1832, Bentham left instructions for his body to be first dissected, and then to be permanently preserved as an “auto-icon” (or self-image), which would be his memorial. This was done, and the auto-icon is now on public display in the entrance of the Student Centre at University College London. Because of his arguments in favour of the general availability of education, he has been described as the “spiritual founder” of UCL. However, he played only a limited direct part in its foundation.
Bentham died on 6th June 1832 aged 84 at his residence in Queen Square Place in Westminster, London. He had continued to write up to a month before his death, and had made careful preparations for the dissection of his body after death and its preservation as an auto-icon. As early as 1769, when Bentham was 21 years old, he made a will leaving his body for dissection to a family friend, the physician and chemist George Fordyce, whose daughter, Maria Sophia, married Jeremy’s brother Samuel Bentham. A paper written in 1830, instructing Thomas Southwood Smith to create the auto-icon, was attached to his last will, dated 30th May 1832.
Bentham’s wish to preserve his dead body was consistent with his philosophy of utilitarianism. Following the dissection, the skeleton and head were preserved and stored in a wooden cabinet called the “Auto-icon”, with the skeleton padded out with hay and dressed in Bentham’s clothes. From 1833 it stood in Southwood Smith’s Finsbury Square consulting rooms until he abandoned private practice in the winter of 1849-50 when it was moved to 36 Percy Street, the studio of his unofficial partner, the painter Margaret Gillies, who made studies of it. In March 1850 Southwood Smith offered the auto-icon to Henry Brougham who readily accepted it for UCL.
It is kept on public display at the main entrance of the UCL Student Centre. Upon the retirement of Sir Malcolm Grant as provost of the College in 2013, the body was present at Grant’s final council meeting. As of 2021, this was the only time that the body of Bentham has been taken to a UCL council meeting. There is a persistent myth that the body of Bentham is present at all council meetings.
Bentham had intended the auto-icon to incorporate his actual head, mummified to resemble its appearance in life. Southwood Smith’s experimental efforts at mummification, based on practices of the indigenous people of New Zealand and involving placing the head under an air pump over sulphuric acid and drawing off the fluids, although technically successful, left the head looking distastefully macabre, with dried and darkened skin stretched tautly over the skull.
The auto-icon was therefore given a wax head, fitted with some of Bentham’s own hair. The real head was displayed in the same case as the auto-icon for many years, but became the target of repeated student pranks. However, the rumour that the head was used as a football is untrue. The head is very fragile and should someone have kicked it, it would have disintegrated. It was later locked away.
In 2020, the auto-icon was put into a new glass display case and moved to the entrance of UCL’s new Student Centre on Gordon Square.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Dwayne Johnson (49), Ellie Kemper (41), David Suchet (75), Matt Berry (47), David Beckham (46), Lily Allen (36), Jamie Dornan (39), Julie Benz (49), Joanna Lumley (75), Una Stubbs (84), Gal Gadot (36), Sam Heughan (41), Kirsten Dunst (39), Burt Young (81), Michelle Pfeiffer (63), Daniel Day-Lewis (64), Uma Thurman (51), Kate Mulgrew (66), Jerry Seinfeld (67), Willie Nelson (88), Mary McDonnell (69), Jessica Alba (40), Penélope Cruz (47), Ann-Margret (80), Jay Leno (71), Jenna Coleman (35), Russell T. Davies (58), Sheena Easton (62), Channing Tatum (41), Pablo Schreiber (43), Giancarlo Esposito (63), Kevin James (56), Jet Li (58), Joan Chen (60), and Melania Trump (51).
Another week full of people you’ve never heard of dying. Unsurprisingly, no points to award this week. I think we could do with a little evil monkey action, but I don’t think they are needed just yet as the Wiki list seems to be filling up with more Covid deaths recently, so maybe we’ll finally see the promised deaths from this little bug.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Walter Mondale, 93, American politician, vice president (1977–1981), member of the U.S. Senate (1964–1976).
- Sunday Burquest, 50, American reality TV contestant (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X), oesophageal and ovarian cancer.
- Jim Steinman, 73, American musician, composer and lyricist (“Total Eclipse of the Heart“, “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)“, “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now“).
- Tempest Storm, 93, American burlesque star and actress.
- Les McKeown, 65, Scottish singer (Bay City Rollers).
- Joe Long, 88, American bassist (The Four Seasons), COVID-19.
In Other News
Alexei Navalny has said he is ending his hunger strike after getting medical attention and being warned by his doctors that continuing it would be life-threatening. The jailed Russian opposition leader was transferred to hospital amid concerns he has become critically ill. Mr Navalny was nearly three weeks into a hunger strike he declared in protest at not being allowed access to doctors he trusted. Over the weekend, Mr Navalny’s press secretary claimed he was a “matter of days away” from death. On Sunday, Daria Navalnaya, Mr Navalny’s daughter, made a plea to prison authorities via social media. “Allow a doctor to see my dad,” in a post on Twitter and Instagram. The state prison service insisted that the Kremlin critic’s health has been and remains “satisfactory”. “He is seen daily by a doctor,” a statement read. “With his agreement he has been prescribed vitamin therapy.” But Navalny said he would stop refusing food after getting examined by non-prison doctors, which has now happened. Another reason he was ending the hunger strike he began on 31st March, other than being really really hungry, was that some of his supporters were refusing to eat in a show of solidarity with him, Navalny said. Navalny was arrested in January upon his return from Germany, where he had spent five months recovering from a nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin – accusations Russian officials reject.
In a fabulous twist of fate, 72 year old dickhead rocker Ted Nugent has revealed that he was in agony after testing positive for coronavirus – months after he said the virus was “not a real.” “So I was officially tested positive for COVID-19 today. I thought I was dying,” Nugent said in a Fb video posted on Monday. He described that he had a stuffed up head, body aches and that he literally could hardly crawl out of bed the last few days.. He also used racist language to refer to the virus, calling it the “Chinese shit,” and reiterated his previous stance that he wouldn’t be getting the vaccine because he claimed — falsely — that “nobody knows what’s in it.” Nugent also addressed the fact that he previously blasted lockdowns on social media, publicly wondering why “weren’t we shut down for COVID-1 through -18.” (The number refers to 2019 — the year in which the disease was discovered. There is no COVID 1-18.) The outspoken pro-gun conservative, a staunch supporter of former U.S. president Donald Trump, previously referred to the virus as a “leftist scam to destroy” America’s 45th president. “It’s not a real pandemic and that’s not a real vaccine” he argued in a video posted in December.
Jacquie Beltrao, 56, has shared a poignant message on Twitter as she celebrated her birthday. The Sky News host reflected on how much her situation had changed in the past year, after her breast cancer returned. Jacquie said in view of her 80,500 followers: “It’s my birthday today and I can’t help think what a difference a year makes. A year ago I was celebrating without a care in the world. Cancer-free, so I thought, obviously I wasn’t because I found a lump a month later and it doesn’t really work like that. “But what a year, I mean, a lot of joy has been sucked out of my life in a year, but I’m trying to live in the moment. “Trying to make the best of it, I’m going to try and have a lovely day today,” she added. Since her diagnosis, Jacquie has completely removed sugar from her diet but felt tempted to enjoy a slice of cake her daughter, Amelia, had made for her. She continued: “I’ve been very disciplined with my diet in the last 12 months. I’ve given up sugar, I’ve lost nearly a stone in weight! So I’m just wondering today if I have a piece of cake that my daughter’s made, I’m thinking yes, but then will I feel guilty when I’ve eaten it? Maybe, I don’t know, it’s so difficult for us with stage four cancer. What to do for the best.” The Sky News host said she felt “grateful” for her birthday and hopes she has “got some more” ahead.
For those of you vaguely interested in The Only Way is Essex, Harry Derbidge’s ex Rhys Alan Smith has died. Rhys was found dead in Tenerife last week, where he is said to have lived. His cause of death is unknown. Gemma Collins led the heartbreaking tributes to Rhys as she commented on the reality star’s last shared picture to Instagram on 3rd April, while Harry is said to be ‘absolutely devastated’ over the news. Rhys dated TOWIE star Harry in 2013 with the former couple regularly appearing at events together before Harry dated Bobby Norris. In 2014, Harry, who is now engaged to beau Dean Rowland, split from Bobby after he told the reality star he had slept with his ex at the beginning of their romance. I’m fairly sure there’s more to say about this story, but frankly I can’t be arsed to look into it.
On This Day
- 1644 – The last Emperor of Ming dynasty China, commits suicide during a peasant rebellion.
- 1792 – Highwayman Nicolas J. Pelletier becomes the first person executed by guillotine. 1953 – Francis Crick and James Watson publish “Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids: A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid” describing the double helix structure of DNA.
- 1954 – The first practical solar cell is publicly demonstrated by Bell Telephone Laboratories.
- 1961 – Robert Noyce is granted a patent for an integrated circuit.
- 1878 – Anna Sewell, English author (b. 1820).
- 1995 – Ginger Rogers, American actress, singer, and dancer (b. 1911).
- 1996 – Saul Bass, American graphic designer and director (b. 1920).
- 2002 – Lisa Lopes, American rapper and dancer (b. 1971).
- 2009 – Bea Arthur, American actress and singer (b. 1922).
The First Man to Face The Chop!
Pelletier routinely associated with a group of known criminals. But on the night of 14th October 1791, with several unknown accomplices, he attacked a passerby in the rue Bourbon-Villeneuve in Paris and stole his wallet and several securities. During the robbery he also killed the man, though this is disputed in later literature as possibly just having been an assault and robbery or also a rape. He was apprehended and accused that same night, for the cries for help alerted some in the city, and a nearby guard arrested Pelletier. Judge Jacob Augustin Moreau, the District Judge of Sens, was to hear the case.
A legal advisor was given to Pelletier, but despite his efforts and calls for a fairer court hearing, the judge ordered a death sentence for 31st December 1791. On 24th December 1791, the Second Criminal Court confirmed Judge Moreau’s sentence. The execution was stayed, however, after the National Assembly made decapitation the only legal method of capital punishment. Pelletier waited in jail for more than three months as the guillotine was built in Strasbourg under the direction of the surgeon Antoine Louis, at a cost of thirty-eight livres. Meanwhile, the public executioner Charles Henri Sanson tested the machine on corpses in the Bicêtre Hospital. Sanson preferred the guillotine over the former decapitation by sword, as the latter reminded him of the nobility’s former privileges that the revolutionaries had worked to eliminate. On 24th January 1792, a third criminal court confirmed the sentence.
The execution was delayed due to the ongoing debate on the legal method of execution. Finally, the National Assembly decreed on 23rd March 1792 in favour of the guillotine.
The guillotine was placed on top of a scaffold outside the Hôtel de Ville in the Place de Grève, where public executions had been held during the reign of King Louis XV. Pierre Louis Roederer, thinking that a large number of people would come to see the first-ever public execution-by-guillotine, thought that there might be difficulty in preserving order. He wrote to General Lafayette to ask for National Guardsmen to make sure the event went smoothly.
The execution took place at 3:30 pm. Pelletier was led to the scaffold wearing a red shirt. The large crowd predicted by Roederer was already waiting there, eager to see the novel invention at work. The guillotine, which was also red in colour, had been previously fully prepared, and Sanson moved quickly. Within seconds, the guillotine and Pelletier were positioned correctly, and Pelletier was decapitated.
The crowd, however, was dissatisfied with the guillotine. They felt it was too swift and “clinically effective” to provide proper entertainment, as compared to previous execution methods, such as hanging, death-by-sword, or breaking at the wheel. The public even called out “Bring back our wooden gallows!”
Out of interest, the last person to be executed by guillotine in France was Hamida Djandoubi in 1977!!!
Last Week’s Birthdays
Renée Zellweger (52), Al Pacino (81), Gina Torres (52), Talia Shire (75), Hank Azaria (57), William Roache (89), Rory McCann (52), Aidan Gillen (53), Djimon Hounsou (57), Shirley MacLaine (87), Barbra Streisand (79), John Cena (44), Lee Majors (82), Gemma Whelan (40), John Hannah (59), John Oliver (43), Amber Heard (35), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (55), Jack Nicholson (84), Sheryl Lee (54), John Waters (75), James McAvoy (42), Toby Stephens (52), Andie MacDowell (63), Tony Danza (70), Iggy Pop (74), Queen Elizabeth II (95), Andy Serkis (57), Jessica Lange (72), Clint Howard (62), Veronica Cartwright (72), Ryan O’Neal (80), Carmen Electra (49), Ruth Connell (42), George Takei (85), Leslie Phillips (97), Nicholas Lyndhurst (60), Michael Brandon (76), Hayden Christensen (40), James Franco (43), Ashley Judd (53), Kate Hudson (42), Tim Curry (75), and Maria Sharapova (34).
Alas no points to award this week, even though we have a clutch of decent celebrities who have passed away. In case you missed it, Prince Philip’s funeral took place, everyone was sobbing as the Queen sat by herself and Harry and William argued through clenched teeth about The Markle Incident. All in all, a great advertising campaign by Land Rover.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Joseph Siravo, 66, American actor (The Sopranos, American Crime Story, Oslo), colon cancer.
- Shirley Williams, 90, British politician and peer and co-founder of the SDP.
- Peter Warner, 90, Australian sailor, drowned.
- Bernie Madoff, 82, American market maker, investment advisor, financier and convicted fraudster.
- Helen McCrory, 52, English actress (Peaky Blinders, Harry Potter, The Queen), cancer.
- Barry Mason, 85, English songwriter (Delilah, The Last Waltz).
- Felix Silla, 84, Italian-born American actor (The Addams Family, The Black Bird, Return of the Jedi) and stuntman, pancreatic cancer.
In Other News
Everyones favourite sex pest, Harvey Weinstein is reportedly going blind and has lost several teeth in prison, according to his lawyer. The disgraced movie mogul appeared virtually in an upstate New York court to fight extradition to Los Angeles, where he has been indicted on 11 counts of sexual assault. According to the media, he faces four counts of forcible rape, four counts of forcible oral copulation, two counts of sexual battery and one count of sexual penetration by force connected to the alleged assaults of five women from 2004 to 2013. Weinstein’s lawyer Norman Effman said his client did not want to be extradited yet due to his health issues needing medical attention. He is “scheduled for some dental procedures to save his teeth – he’s lost, I believe four at this point,” Effman said. He didn’t mention if the teeth fell out on their own or were helped along by a fellow inmate. Weinstein was found guilty in February 2020 of third-degree rape and of a criminal sexual act. He was sentenced the following month to 23 years in prison.
Yet another social media ‘celebrity’ has died. If you know of the TikTok star Adam Perkins, well, he’s dead, and at the very young age of 24. The Boston-born internet sensation’s twin brother Patrick confirmed the news on Instagram, as he revealed the ‘star’ had died on April 11th but did not disclose any cause of death, but by the look of him I suspect a healthy dose of crack. As well as having thousands of TikTok followers, Adam was most well known for a clip on the the now-defunct social media site Vine which saw him parody an advert for the American restaurant chain Chili’s in which we saw him walk into a bathroom and say ‘Welcome to Chili’s’, yup, that’s all it takes nowadays folks! They say he released an album called Latch Relay in 2018 under the name Plas Teg, I’m fucked if I’ve ever heard of it. I reckon his twin brother has missed a trick here though, obviously the lesser talented, he should have declared himself dead and reaped the cash his brother could have made, or not, as we’ve never heard of him!
You might have rightly skimmed over this weeks deaths and totally ignored the name Barry Mason, I’ll forgive you. However the songwriter who died at the age of 85 on Friday has a string of well known hits and is also behind Leeds United’s anthem Marching on Together. Mason co-wrote the sporting anthem with Les Reed in 1972, which has also become the song of city rugby league club Leeds Rhinos. Other hits penned by Mason include Tom Jones’ mega hit Delilah and The Last Waltz by Engelbert Humperdinck. Taking to Twitter, a Leeds United spokesperson said: “LUFC are saddened to learn of the passing of Barry Mason, co-writer of the club’s anthem Marching On Together.” Spandau Ballet songwriter Gary Kemp said: “Shocked to hear that my friend and lovely human Barry Mason died yesterday. All my love to his wife Vanessa and his children.” He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2020 Birthday Honours for services to music. In a glittering career he won five Ivor Novello Awards and penned an extraordinary 11,000 songs. Working in the golden age of British popular music in the 1960’s, his songs were performed by the likes of Rod Stewart, Engelbert Humperdinck, Elvis Presley ,The Drifters and of course, Tom Jones.
Not to sound monotonous, but yet another YouTube influencer you’ve never heard of, Jeffree Star has said he is in “excruciating pain” after he and his friend Daniel Lucas were involved in a “severe” car accident in Wyoming. The controversial YouTube ‘star’ was driving in Natrona County when the Rolls Royce they were in hit black ice and flipped over three times. A representative posted a picture of Star in a hospital gown, laying in a bed with a neck brace on, from his official Twitter account. “A few hours ago Jeffree and Daniel were in a severe car accident and the car flipped 3 times after hitting black ice,” the tweet stated. “We will update you all when the doctor gives us more info. So thankful they are both alive.” Star has now posted an update from his social media accounts, calling the incident “one of the scariest moments” of his life. “This morning was one of the scariest moments of our entire lives. I’m so grateful to be here still. I’m in excruciating pain because part of my back is broken and I have vertebrae fractures on my spine. My doctor said it will take a few months but I should make a full recovery,” he wrote. “My best friend Daniel has internal injuries and because he has survived colon cancer three times, he’s having complications with his organs and they’re monitoring him 24/7. We’ll know more soon. Thank you to every single person checking on us.” Star, whose real name is Jeffrey Lynn Steininger, is originally from Orange County, California, but last year bought a 70-acre ranch near Casper, Wyoming. The 35-year-old has run Jeffree Star Cosmetics since 2014, and has 16.5 million subscribers on YouTube, 13.6 million on Instagram and 6.9 million on Twitter.
Charles Geschke, the co-founder of the software company Adobe who helped develop the Portable Document Format, or PDF, has died at the age of 81. Geschke set up Adobe in 1982, giving the world the ubiquitous PDF software, among many other audio-visual innovations. Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen said Geschke, widely known as Chuck, “sparked the desktop publishing revolution”. “This is a huge loss for the entire Adobe community and the technology industry, for whom he has been a guide and hero for decades,” he wrote in an email to the company’s employees. “As co-founders of Adobe, Chuck and John Warnock developed ground-breaking software that has revolutionised how people create and communicate,” he said. Geschke and Warnock were responsible for transformative software inventions, including PDF, Acrobat, Illustrator, Premiere Pro and Photoshop, Mr Narayen said. In 1992, Geschke was kidnapped in an incident that made national headlines. He was held at gunpoint in his office and taken to Hollister, California, for four days. Geschke was freed after a suspect, found with $650,000 in ransom money, took police to the location where he was being held. In 2009, President Barack Obama awarded Geschke and Warnock the National Medal of Technology.
On This Day
- 1912 – The Cunard liner RMS Carpathia brings 705 survivors from the RMS Titanic to New York City.
- 1930 – The British Broadcasting Corporation announced that “there is no news” in their evening report.
- 2007 – A series of bombings, two of them being suicides, occur in Baghdad, killing 198 and injuring 251.
- 1763 – Marie-Josephte Corriveau, Canadian murderer (b. 1733)
- 1955 – Albert Einstein, German-American physicist, engineer, and academic (b. 1879).
- 2018 – Dale Winton, British television presenter (b. 1955).
Last Week’s Birthdays
Vanessa Kirby (33), David Tennant (50), James Woods (74), Hayley Mills (75), Eli Roth (49), Rick Moranis (68), Jennifer Garner (49), Rooney Mara (36), Sean Bean (62), David Bradley (79), Anya Taylor-Joy (25), Claire Foy (36), Gina Carano (39), Ellen Barkin (67), Sadie Sink (19), Martin Lawrence (56), Emma Watson (31), Luke Evans (42), Seth Rogen (39), Emma Thompson (62), Maisie Williams (24), Adrien Brody (48), Sarah Michelle Gellar (44), Anthony Michael Hall (53), Robert Carlyle (60), Peter Capaldi (63), Julie Christie (81), Ron Perlman (71), William Sadler (71), Erick Avari (69), Edward Fox (84), Peter Davison (70), Jennifer Morrison (42), Saoirse Ronan (27), Claire Danes (42), Ed O’Neill (75), Andy Garcia (65), Shannen Doherty (50), and Nicholas Brendon (50).
As Prince Philip dies just two months shy of receiving a telegram from his wife; for us he instigates a points avalanche! Some of you scored 51 points, but most of you had him down as a Cert, so 151 points. I’ll not list you all, but well done everyone! Commiserations to Martin, myself and Sarai as the only ones neglecting to put the lizard overseer on our lists this year. Interestingly, the old duke scores a grand total of 2930 points. In comparison, Maggie Thatcher scored 1882 points, Nelson Mandela 1315 points, and Bruce Forsyth 2486 points, so the old fella has punched out at the top. I suspect the only person to beat his score could be The Queen herself!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Paul Ritter, 54, English actor (Friday Night Dinner, Chernobyl, No Offence), brain cancer.
- James Hampton, 84, American actor (F Troop, The Longest Yard, Teen Wolf) and director, complications from Parkinson’s disease.
- Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, 99, Greek-born British royal, consort of the British monarch (since 1952).
- DMX, 50, American rapper and actor.
- Nikki Grahame, 38, English television personality (Big Brother, Princess Nikki, Big Brother Canada), anorexia nervosa.
In Other News
Tracey Emin has declared she’s passed a “big milestone” in her battle with bladder cancer as her last scans gave her the “all clear”. She went public with her health battle back in October, revealing she’d undergone treatment and the disease was in remission. The artist, 57, has now opened up about her condition in a new interview on BBC Newsnight, explaining her last three-monthly scan last week showed she was “all clear”. She added: “I’m not painting because I’m using my willpower to stay alive. That’s what I’m doing. I never realised how much I wanted to live until I thought I was going to die.” Tracey – famed for her messy bed art installation – also revealed she’s undergone life-saving surgeries in a bid to beat the cancer including a full hysterectomy. She also had her bladder and urethra, lymph nodes, part of her vagina and intestine removed. In the Newsnight interview, she explained she now has a urostomy bag to take the place of the bladder and urinary system, calling it a “major disability”. She had been undergoing scans every three months to keep a check on the cancer, but after being given the all clear she will now only have to be checked once a year.
Sarah Harding has revealed her joy at being told her brain and lung tumours had reduced in size following her cancer treatment at the back end of last year. The Girls Aloud singer was first diagnosed with breast cancer earlier in the year but received the devastating news that it had quickly spread to other parts of her body.The 39-year-old has since been undergoing chemotherapy treatment and ahead of this week’s release of her debut autobiography called Hear Me Out, it has been revealed that some of the tumours have reduced in size. She shared “MRI scans at the end of December revealed that the tumours in my brain and in my lung have shrunk a bit with the treatment.” While she admitted that she didn’t know “exactly what this means” she was happy to announce that it’s moving in the right direction. She continued: “Right now, every little victory feels momentous”.
Max George has revealed his pal Tom Parker has “shocked” doctors with how well he’ been response to brain cancer treatment. The Wanted star, 32, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour and has been undergoing rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in a bid to prolong his life. Speaking on the Dangerous Dinners podcast, Max, also 32, gave the good news that the cancer has been “suppressed”. He explained: “Tom’s got something called glioblastoma, which is quite an aggressive form of brain tumour, but he’s had his first bout of chemo and radio therapy, which he has responded to unbelievably. “Doctors were actually shocked by how well he’s responded – all of his tumours have been suppressed, so he’s in the best hands.” Max went on to insist dad-of-two Tom is being his usual cheerful self and just wants to keep his life as normal as possible. He added: “In himself, Tom… Nothing puts Tom down, nothing. When you talk to him it’s like everything’s normal, and he just wants that – he wants normality. “He’s just had his second child, so he’s got so much to focus on – he’s doing great, he’s doing really well.”
On This Day
- 1951 – The Stone of Scone, the stone upon which Scottish monarchs were traditionally crowned, is found on the site of the altar of Arbroath Abbey. It had been taken by Scottish nationalist students from its place in Westminster Abbey.
- 1965 – The Palm Sunday tornado outbreak of 1965: Fifty-one tornadoes hit in six Midwestern states, killing 256 people.
- 1976 – The Apple I is created.
- 1240 – Llywelyn the Great, Welsh prince (b. 1172).
- 1890 – Joseph Merrick, English man with severe deformities, The Elephant Man (b. 1862).
- 1985 – John Gilroy, English artist and illustrator (b. 1898).
- 2001 – Harry Secombe, Welsh-English actor (b. 1921).
- 2007 – Kurt Vonnegut, American novelist, short story writer, and playwright (b. 1922).
Last Week’s Birthdays
Tricia Helfer (47), Matt Ryan (40), Jeremy Clarkson (61), Charlie Hunnam (41), Daisy Ridley (29), Haley Joel Osment (33), David Harbour (46), Brad William Henke (55), Steven Seagal (69), Peter MacNicol (67), Kristen Stewart (31), Elle Fanning (23), Dennis Quaid (67), Mark Pellegrino (56), Cynthia Nixon (55), Valerie Singleton (84), Katee Sackhoff (41), Robin Wright (55), Emma Caulfield Ford (48), Patricia Arquette (53), Dean Norris (58), Russell Crowe (57), Jackie Chan (67), Francis Ford Coppola (82), Michael Rooker (66), Paul Rudd (52), Zach Braff (46), John Ratzenberger (74), Billy Dee Williams (84), Lily James (32), Mitch Pileggi (69), Jane Asher (75), and Pharrell Williams (48).
A lacklustre week for famous deaths, but a few interesting reads below to amuse the morbid amongst you. If you see any news snippets of fancy a go at writing for the newsletter, please forward anything you feel that’s interesting or newsworthy.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Myra Frances, 78, British actress (Doctor Who), cancer.
- Evelyn Sakash, 66, American production designer (Mermaids), heart disease.
- Valerie Pitts, 83, British television presenter (Play School).
- April, 20, American giraffe, euthanised.
In Other News
The music world is reacting to the reports that DMX is in critical condition after taking a drug overdose. It’s been claimed that the overdose, which was said to have been taken on Friday, triggered a heart attack. According to reports, the rapper, 50, was rushed to hospital, where a source says he is in a “vegetative state”. Reports of DMX’s overdose has sent shockwaves throughout the rap community. Among those to have sent “prayers” to the rapper, whose real name is Earl Simmons, are Ja Rule and Missy Elliott. DMX has previously spoken about his addiction to crack cocaine, which he said began when he was 14. He has been in and out of rehab over the years, the most recent time occurring in 2019 when he checked himself in. In 2013, he told American TV personality Dr Phil that he was “always going to be an addict until I die”, two years after he claimed to have “let the cocaine go” so he could focus on raising his children. As of this morning, DMX has been taken off life support and he is now breathing on his own.
Evelyn Sakash, an Emmy-winning production designer and scenic artist, has been found dead in her home six months after she was reported missing. Sakash worked in the art department of series including Orange is the New Black and Law & Order: Criminal Intent, as well as films such as Mermaids and Still Alice. The 66-year-old’s body was found beneath a pile of debris in the kitchen of her home in Queens, New York. A spokesperson for the New York Police Department confirmed that Sakash died of natural causes, as a result of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease. Sakash was first reported missing in September, and a GoFundMe campaign was set up by a friend in December to raise funds to find her. On Tuesday, Sakash’s body was found by cleaners hired by her sister, Ellen Brown, to clear the production designer’s home. Brown addressed claims that Sakash was a hoarder and that her sister’s body was found beneath “an avalanche of trash”. “This is just devastating. She had a full life. She was so extraordinarily talented. She was a brilliant mind … I don’t want my sister to be remembered like that, like the way she was found.” In the wake of Sakash’s death, another GoFundMe has been set up in her name to raise money for funeral costs. You have to wonder how smelly her house was to hide a rotting corpse for six months…
Peter Egan has revealed his wife of 45 years, actress Myra Frances, has passed away. The screen star, 74, took to Twitter on Wednesday to share the tragic news about his ‘friend and soulmate’, admitting: ‘My heart is broken’. The grieving actor said: ‘This is the saddest post I will ever have to make. My wonderful wife Myra, my friend & soulmate lost her battle with cancer at 1.30am on Tuesday. This message is for all her followers on her FB & Twitter @EganMyra. She was the most amazing human being. My heart is broken.’ Peter also recorded an emotional video revealing he’d be taking a break from social media as he came to terms with his wife’s tragic death. Peter met fellow thespian Myra in 1972 when they were both in TV drama The Organisation, and they married four years later. The couple moved from London into their Surrey home in 2016 with their five rescue dogs, and have both campaigned tirelessly for animal welfare. While Peter has had a slew of acting roles in series including Downton Abbey, Hold the Sunset and Afterlife, Myra had been retired for many years. The news comes after Peter appeared in Unforgotten’s heartbreaking series finale on Monday night, before ITV confirmed that show would return for a fifth season.
April, a giraffe from Animal Adventure Park in New York whose delivery of a new baby calf was live-streamed in 2017, has been euthanised due to advancing arthritis, the zoo has announced. The live-stream became the second most-watched stream in YouTube’s history at the time of broadcast, garnering more than 232 million views and 7.6 billion minutes of live watch time over the course of several months. It was also sponsored by the retailer Toys R Us, in a nod to its official mascot, Geoffrey the Giraffe. In a statement shared to social media, Animal Adventure Park said that April’s latest vet exam revealed that her arthritis had accelerated, leading them to conclude that euthanasia was the “humane and appropriate course of action”. “Beginning in the summer of 2020, the staff at Animal Adventure Park began reporting changes in April’s mobility. The park’s veterinarians radiographed April’s feet in July 2020 and noted the onset of osteoarthritis. The park began multi-modal management of osteoarthritis including measures such as pain medications, anti-inflammatories, hoof trimming, installation of padded flooring and dietary changes in hopes of slowing down the progression of her condition. Unfortunately, over time, what we saw was April increasingly shifting her weight from limb-to-limb, a continual decline in mobility and spending a lot more time laying recumbent,” the post reads. With the irreversible condition advancing “at a rapid rate”, it was decided that euthanasia would be the “most humane decision” to take, and she died on Friday aged 20. Following the completion of an animal autopsy – known as a necropsy – April will be cremated, with her ashes returned to Animal Adventure Park to fertilise the roses.
On This Day
- 1721 – Sir Robert Walpole becomes the first British prime minister.
- 1841 – William Henry Harrison dies of pneumonia, becoming the first President of the United States to die in office, and setting the record for the briefest administration.
- 1925 – The Schutzstaffel (SS) is founded under Adolf Hitler‘s Nazi party in Germany.
- 1968 – Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated by James Earl Ray at a motel in Memphis, Tennessee.
- 1969 – Dr. Denton Cooley implants the first temporary artificial heart.
- 1975 – Microsoft is founded.
- 1968 – Martin Luther King Jr., American minister and activist (b. 1929).
- 1983 – Gloria Swanson, American actress (b. 1899).
- 1993 – Alfred Mosher Butts, American game designer, invented Scrabble (b. 1899).
- 1995 – Kenny Everett, English radio and television host (b. 1944).
- 2013 – Roger Ebert, American journalist, critic, and screenwriter (b. 1942).
On Thursday, April 4th, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was staying in room 306 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. The motel was owned by businessman Walter Bailey and was named after his wife. Reverend Ralph Abernathy, a colleague and friend, later told the House Select Committee on Assassinations that he and King had stayed in Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel so often that it was known as the “King–Abernathy Suite”.
According to biographer Taylor Branch, King and Abernathy enjoyed a catfish lunch and iced tea at the Lorraine Motel’s grill and King’s last words were to musician Ben Branch, who was scheduled to perform that night at a planned event. King said, “Ben, make sure you play ‘Take My Hand, Precious Lord‘ in the meeting tonight. Play it real pretty.”
According to Rev. Samuel Kyles, who was standing several feet away, King was leaning over the balcony railing in front of Room 306 with Rev. Jesse Jackson when the shot rang out. King was struck in the face at 6:01 p.m. by a single .30-06 bullet fired from a Remington Model 760 rifle. The bullet entered through King’s right cheek, breaking his jaw and several vertebrae as it traveled down his spinal cord, severing his jugular vein and major arteries in the process, before lodging in his shoulder. The force of the shot ripped King’s necktie off. King fell backward onto the balcony, unconscious. Everyone first believed King was dead, but found he still had a pulse.
King was rushed to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where doctors opened his chest and performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He never regained consciousness and died at 7:05 p.m. According to Branch, King’s autopsy revealed that his heart was in the condition of a 60-year-old man rather than that of a 39-year-old such as King, which Branch attributed to the stress of King’s 13 years in the civil rights movement.
The Rev. Kyles had planned to take King to dinner at his home after the balcony speech, the meal, which was to be cooked at the church by a number of female members, included many of King’s favourite dishes: fried chicken, ham, sweet potatoes, two kinds of greens, crowder peas, sweet potato pie. Sadly, although the meal was prepared, the news of King’s death meant that none of it was cooked.
Shortly after King was shot, witnesses saw a man, later believed to be James Earl Ray, fleeing from a rooming house across the street from the Lorraine Motel. Ray had been renting a room in the boarding house. Police found a package dumped close to the site that included a rifle and binoculars, both with Ray’s fingerprints. Ray had purchased the rifle under an alias six days earlier. A worldwide manhunt was triggered that culminated in Ray’s arrest at London’s Heathrow Airport two months later. On March 10th, 1969, he pleaded guilty to the first degree murder of Martin Luther King Jr., which was later recanted.
The King family and others believe that the assassination was the result of a conspiracy involving the U.S. government, the mafia, and the Memphis police. They believe that Ray was a scapegoat. Ray died in prison on April 23rd, 1998, at the age of 70 from kidney and liver failure caused by Hepatitis C.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Robert Downey Jr. (56), Natasha Lyonne (42), Hugo Weaving (61), Graham Norton (58), Xenia Seeberg (53), Eddie Murphy (60), Amanda Bynes (35), Alec Baldwin (63), Paris Jackson (23), Pedro Pascal (46), Michael Fassbender (44), Clark Gregg (59), Linda Hunt (76), Penelope Keith (81), Mackenzie Davis (34), Asa Butterfield (24), Ali MacGraw (82), Ewan McGregor (50), Christopher Walken (78), Richard Chamberlain (87), Rhea Perlman (73), Daniel Mays (43), William Daniels (94), Robbie Coltrane (71), Warren Beatty (84), Donna D’Errico (53), Piers Morgan (56), Céline Dion (53), Eric Clapton (76), Lucy Lawless (53), Brendan Gleeson (66), Ed Skrein (38), Marina Sirtis (66), Christopher Lambert (64), Elle Macpherson (57), and Eric Idle (78).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- George Segal, 87, American actor (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Goldbergs, A Touch of Class), complications from bypass surgery.
- Beverly Cleary, 104, American children’s author (The Mouse and the Motorcycle, Ramona, Dear Mr. Henshaw).
- Larry McMurtry, 84, American novelist and screenwriter (Lonesome Dove, The Last Picture Show, Brokeback Mountain), Oscar winner (2006), heart failure.
- muMs da Schemer, 52, American actor (Oz, She’s Gotta Have It, Hightown) and poet.
- Jessica Walter, 80, American actress (Arrested Development, Archer, Play Misty for Me).
- Houston Tumlin, 28, American child actor (Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby), suicide by gunshot.
In Other News
People have been left confused after BBC News published breaking news reports that Mary Tyler Moore had died, four years after the actor’s actual death. The Oscar-nominated actor and US sitcom star died aged 80 in January 2017. Users on social media were baffled after the BBC announced the news on their social media channels. A post from their official BBC Breaking News Twitter account has since been deleted. “Peculiar announcement by the BBC a few moments ago. Considering Mary Tyler Moore already died back in 2017,” commented one person. Another user added: “Who’s going to tell them that Mary Tyler Moore has been dead since 2017?” Someone else wrote: “Mary Tyler Moore’s died again I see…” A fourth person said: “Well this is odd… @BBCBreaking is tweeting that #MaryTylerMoore has passed away… Ummmm you are right, she did, but it was 4 years ago on January 25, 2017!!!” Tyler’s cause of death was cited as cardiopulmonary arrest after she had contracted pneumonia. The seven-time Emmy Award winner battled diabetes over the years and had been breathing through a respirator for more than a week.
BJ Thomas has revealed he is fighting stage four lung cancer. The singer, best known for the hit Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head, released a statement breaking news of his diagnosis to fans. In the post shared to social media, BJ, 78, began by thanking his loved ones for their support. “I just wanted to take this unique opportunity to share my gratitude to Gloria, my wonderful wife and my rock for over 53 years, my family, friends, and fans. I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity to record and perform beautiful songs in pop, country, and gospel music, and to share those wonderful songs and memories around the world with millions of you.” BJ then asked for prayers during this difficult time and revealed his hope that his “music can live on’ with his fans. A representative for the Grammy-winning vocalist said he was hopeful for a complete recovery. Among BJ’s first hits were the 1966 cover of the Hank Williams song I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry, and the 1968 song Hooked on a Feeling. His biggest hit came in 1969 with Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head, which topped the charts for an entire month. The track was featured in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and named the Best Song at the Oscars.
Jeff Lowe has been airlifted to hospital after suffering a suspected stroke in an Oklahoma casino. The 54-year-old star of Netflix hit series Tiger King allegedly had his drinks spiked, according to his wife Lauren Lowe. She found her husband unconscious at 3am at the WinStar World Casino, where they were staying, on March 18th, and said that he was not breathing when she found him. Lauren has publicly stated that she thinks someone slipped something into his drink and have poisoned him in the process. Lauren said she thought Jeff was “dying in my arms” after she had called emergency services. Paramedics determined that Jeff was having a stroke, when they arrived at the scene, and decided to have him airlifted to a hospital. Lauren said that she was suspicious of the cause of Jeff’s stroke because the paramedics were unable to determine what had triggered the stroke after performing tests on him. Lauren told us about what happened that evening, saying they were enjoying a dinner date when they were approached by a stranger. The man claimed that he knew who there were and had knowledge of their usual drinks order. She believes that this could have been the moment that Jeff’s drink was spiked. Despite the claims, blood and urine tests on her husband have come back negative when being checked against commonly abused drugs. Lauren is still maintaining that the man who approached them could have contaminated Jeff’s drink and brought on the stroke. Despite their fears as to what happened, the couple have not as yet reported the incident to the police.
On This Day
- 1933 – The Imperial Airways biplane City of Liverpool is believed to be the first airliner lost to sabotage when a passenger sets a fire on board.
- 1979 – A coolant leak at the Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 nuclear reactor outside Harrisburg, Pennsylvania leads to the core overheating and a partial meltdown.
- 1979 – The House of Commons passes a vote of no confidence against James Callaghan’s government by 1 vote, precipitating a general election.
- 1584 – Ivan the Terrible, Russian king (b. 1530).
- 1941 – Virginia Woolf, English novelist, essayist, short story writer, and critic (b. 1882).
- 1969 – Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States (b. 1890).
- 2004 – Peter Ustinov, English-Swiss actor, director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1921).
- 2013 – Richard Griffiths, English actor (b. 1947).
They’re Sill Alive?!?!
Better known professionally as Charlie Sheen, with a list of films and TV roles as long as your arm; he was once the highest paid actor on television, earning US$1.8 million per episode of Two and a Half Men, that is, until Tiger blood happened….
To say that Sheen’s personal life has made headlines is a slight understatement. He’s been linked to reports of alcohol and drug abuse and marital problems, as well as allegations of domestic violence.
Sheen’s love life has been somewhat up and down, he has been married three times and has five children and one grandchild. In January 1990, Sheen accidentally shot his fiancée, Kelly Preston, in the arm. Unsurprisingly, she broke off the engagement soon after. In the 1990’s, Sheen subsequently dated a number of porn film actresses, including Ginger Lynn and Heather Hunter. He went on to marry his first wife, Donna Peele in September 1995.
That same year, Sheen was named as one of the clients of an escort agency operated by Heidi Fleiss. Sheen and Peele divorced in 1996.
Sheen then met actress Denise Richards on the set of Good Advice in 2000. They dated and soon married in 2002 and had two daughters together, however by 2005 Richards filed for divorce, accusing Sheen of alcohol and drug abuse and threats of violence as well as accusations of Sheen looking at gay pornography featuring “boys who looked underage” and being “attracted” to underage women. Sheen would later deny these claims, and stated that the FBI was “aware” of the allegations and had searched his computers.
In 2008, Sheen married his third wife, Brooke Mueller and had twin sons. Two years later Mueller obtained a restraining order against Sheen, had the social services take the children and commented that she was concerned that “Sheen is currently insane.” Strangely, he was the one who filed for divorce this time.
Since then he’s had a few relationships with more adult film stars, including Bree Olson, Georgia Jones, and Brett Rossi, the latter was hospitalised for an apparent drug overdose one month after leaving Sheen. You could assume that Sheen’s issues arose from the time he suffered a stroke after overdosing while using cocaine and was hospitalised. Sheen was found in his seaside home by a friend, after which paramedics rushed him to hospital. He was described as being in a “serious condition” after his stomach was pumped. Sheen subsequently checked into a rehab clinic days later but told doctors within hours that he did not intend to stay. Sheriffs later forced Sheen back into the clinic after he fled only hours after arriving. Sheen admitted that the overdose was caused by his injecting of cocaine.
In 2009, Sheen was arrested for assaulting his wife at the time, Brooke Mueller. He was released the same day from jail after posting an $8,500 bond. Sheen was charged with felony menacing, as well as third-degree assault and criminal mischief. Around the same time he was forcibly removed from the Plaza Hotel after he reportedly caused $7,000 in damage in a drug and alcohol bender.
Sheen publicly revealed that he was HIV positive in 2015, having been diagnosed roughly four years earlier. In an interview, he referred to the acronym HIV as “three hard letters to absorb”. He manages his condition with a triple cocktail of antiretroviral drugs, and said that it was impossible that he could have infected any of his partners. Sheen noted that since 2011, he had paid extortionists approximately $10 million to keep his HIV status secret. Sheen stated that he was upfront about his HIV positive condition with all of his past partners.
In 2017, Sheen sued the National Enquirer over a story alleging that, in 1986, the then 19-year-old actor raped his 13-year-old co-star Corey Haim on the set of Lucas. The case was settled in 2018. Haim’s mother, Judy Haim, identified a different actor as her son’s rapist on The Dr. Oz Show, and told Entertainment Tonight that Sheen never raped her son, calling the claims “made up”. Two years later, actor Corey Feldman repeated the claim that Sheen raped Haim in his documentary (My) Truth: The Rape of Two Coreys, corroborated by Feldman’s ex-wife Susie Feldman and his Lost Boys co-star Jamison Newlander. Sheen, through his publicist, denied the allegations, calling them “sick, twisted and outlandish”.
During 20001, at the height of his television career, Sheen underwent a substance rehabilitation program in his home, his third attempt at rehab in 12 months. At this time, Sheen publicly made derogatory comments about the series’ creator, Chuck Lorre, so Warner Bros. banned Sheen from entering its production lot and canceled the remaining episodes of season four of Two and a Half Men. Sheen, already the highest-paid actor on television, responded by publicly demanding a 50 percent raise, claiming that in comparison to the amount that the series was making, he was “underpaid”. CBS and Warner Bros. terminated Sheen’s contract. He was replaced by Ashton Kutcher.
In the wake of the dismissal, Sheen had highly publicised events which were broadcast on television and the Internet. He made statements in television interviews, suggesting that he was a “warlock” with “tiger blood” and “Adonis DNA”, and that he was “winning”. He also posted videos to YouTube showing himself smoking cigarettes through his nose, and cursing out his former employers. He told one TV interviewer, “I’m tired of pretending I’m not special. I’m tired of pretending I’m not a total bitchin’ rock star from Mars.”
His life and career hasn’t really recovered since, however, somehow, Charlie Sheen is still alive!
Last Week’s Birthdays
Dianne Wiest (73), Julia Stiles (40), Lady Gaga (35), Vince Vaughn (51), Nick Frost (49), Chris Barrie (61), Quentin Tarantino (58), Nathan Fillion (50), Julian Glover (86), Michael York (79), Fergie (46), Mariah Carey (52), Jessie J (33), Keira Knightley (36), Jennifer Grey (61), James Caan (81), Martin Short (71), Diana Ross (77), Steven Tyler (73), Lee Pace (42), Sarah Jessica Parker (56), Paul Michael Glaser (78), Richard O’Brien (79), Elton John (74), Jessica Chastain (44), Louie Anderson (68), Alyson Hannigan (47), Jim Parsons (48), Lara Flynn Boyle (51), Kelly LeBrock (61), Amanda Plummer (65), Joanna Page (44), Reese Witherspoon (45), Lena Olin (66), and William Shatner (90).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Yaphet Kotto, 81, American actor (Live and Let Die, Alien, Homicide: Life on the Street).
- Henry Darrow, 87, American actor (The High Chaparral, The Hitcher, Zorro).
- Sabine Schmitz, 51, German motor racer and television presenter (Top Gear), cancer.
- Glynn Lunney, 84, American aerospace engineer (Project Mercury, Project Gemini, Apollo program).
In Other News
Prince Philip has left King Edward VII’s Hospital in London where he has been recovering after heart surgery. The Duke of Edinburgh spent 28 nights as an in-patient – his longest ever stay – after he was admitted on 16th February. He was initially taken to King Edward VII’s Hospital after feeling unwell at Windor and was moved to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in the City of London two weeks later. He underwent surgery for a pre-existing heart condition at St Bartholomew’s on 3rd March, before being transferred back to King Edward’s to recover and continue treatment. The duke left the private hospital in the back of a black BMW on Tuesday morning. Philip has been treated for heart problems in the past and in 2011 was rushed to hospital by helicopter from Sandringham after suffering chest pains as the royal family was preparing for Christmas. In the serious health scare, he was treated for a blocked coronary artery at Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire and underwent a minimally invasive procedure of coronary stenting.
The last male member of an indigenous Amazonian tribe has died from Covid-19, marking the permanent loss of his people’s traditions and rituals. Aruká Juma, of the Juma tribe, died on 17th February due to complications caused by the virus in a hospital in Pôrto Velho, the capital of state of Rondônia in western Brazil. The coronavirus crisis has hit indigenous people in the Amazon hard, believed to have been spread by non-indigenous people entering their areas to carry out illegal activities such as logging and mining. Mr Juma, who was believed to be aged between 86 and 90, had three daughters, all of whom married into a different tribe and will be unable to carry on his lineage as it is descended from fathers. In the 18th century, there were an estimated 15,000 people in the Juma tribe, but the numbers shrank drastically due to disease and massacres. By 1934, only around 100 members remained. 30 years later, a massacre left just six members of the tribe alive, including Mr Juma. After the death of his brother-in-law in 1999, he became the last living male member of the tribe. The Federal Prosecutor’s Office of Rondônia said in a statement on Mr Juma’s death: “In the mid-60s, the Juma people were almost extinct due to the massacres that other relatives suffered in the previous decades by rubber tappers, loggers and fishermen in the territory, which is on the banks of the Assuã River, in Canutama. Aruká was one of the survivors of his ethnicity. The indigenous man leaves three daughters, the last people of the Juma ethnic group.” Groups advocating for the rights of indigenous people said Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro’s denial of Covid-19 and lack of policy, coupled with geographic challenges, pose a substantial threat to the survival of indigenous populations.
Five-time world darts champion Raymond van Barneveld is being monitored by medics after collapsing at the Players Championship 8 on Friday. The Dutchman, 53, required medical assistance after becoming unwell soon after his first-round defeat at the event in Milton Keynes. Raymond collapsed as he marked a match between Jeffrey de Zwaan and Zoran Lerchbacher. He was seen by paramedics but did not require hospital treatment and returned to his hotel to be monitored. A spokesperson for the PDC said: “Raymond van Barneveld received medical treatment after being taken ill at Friday’s competition. He was treated by paramedics but has not required hospital treatment, and returned to his hotel room at the Marshall Arena to be further monitored. Play was suspended whilst Van Barneveld received treatment before resuming at 14:45 GMT.” Van Barneveld retired from the sport in 2019 but made his return earlier this year and won a two-year card through Q School.
An Iranian woman who died of a heart attack while waiting to be executed was allegedly still hanged. The woman, named in reports as Zahra Ismaili, was reportedly made to watch as 16 men were hanged in front of her while waiting her turn at Rajai Shahr Prison, west of the capital Tehran. The mother-of-two had been convicted of killing her husband, who was a senior official in the Ministry of Intelligence. Her lawyer, Omid Moradi, claimed her husband had allegedly been abusive to both her and their daughter and that she had acted in self-defence. Mr Moradi is said to have described how the events unfolded on Wednesday in a Facebook post, which claimed his client’s body was still hanged after she collapsed, to allow her husband’s mother to kick a chair away from beneath her. According to the Iran Human Rights Monitor, the post, which has reportedly since been deleted, said Ismaili’s death certificate gave her cause of death as “cardiac arrest”. Mr Moradi reportedly wrote: “It states cardiac arrest as cause of death because yesterday 16 men were hanged before her eyes. Zahra’s heart stopped and she died before she was taken to the gallows. “They hanged her lifeless body, and the victim’s mother personally kicked the stool from under her feet so she could see her daughter-in-law’s corpse on the gallows for even a few seconds.” Ismaili was one of three women to be executed in Iran in recent weeks in the prisons of Ardabil, Sanandaj and Karaj, according to the Iran HRM. This brings the total number of women executed during Iranian president Hassan Rouhani’s tenure, which began in August 2013, to 114, the website, run by human rights activists, said. Hands up who would like a mother-in-law like that?
On This Day
- 1871 – Journalist Henry Morton Stanley begins his trek to find the missionary and explorer David Livingstone.
- 1963 – Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary closes.
- 1983 – The first cases of the 1983 West Bank fainting epidemic begin; Israelis and Palestinians accuse each other of poison gas, but the cause is later determined mostly to be psychosomatic.
- 2006 – The social media site Twitter is founded.
- 1617 – Pocahontas, Algonquian Indigenous princess (b. c. 1595).
- 1997 – Wilbert Awdry, English cleric and author, created Thomas the Tank Engine (b. 1911).
- 1999 – Ernie Wise, English comedian and actor (b. 1925).
- 2017 – Colin Dexter, English author (b. 1930).
- 2017 – Martin McGuinness, Irish republican (b. 1950).
The Last Man Executed in The Isle of Man
John Kewish Jr. was the last person executed in the Isle of Man. He was convicted and executed for the crime of patricide. Sentences of death would be continually issued, the last in 1992, on the Isle of Man, but Kewish’s sentence was the last to be carried out.
Prior to his arrest John Kewish Jr. lived on a farm with his elderly parents. He was the oldest of seven siblings and was unmarried. Kewish’s father, John Kewish Sr., was found dead in his home on 28th March 1872. Kewish Jr., who had a history of crime including sheep stealing, was arrested and charged with patricide. He was described as mentally disabled.
According to depositions, the body was found on the evening of 28th March by the victim’s wife, Mary Kewish, and a neighbour. The following day the family moved the body, washed it, and prepared it for burial. It was not until 30th March that someone decided to contact the police. On 31st March a police doctor examined the body and noted six wounds (four on the back and two on the chest) which he felt were caused by three thrusts from a small pitchfork. Thomas Kewish, John Jr.’s brother, also admitted there was an ongoing argument between John and his father. The police felt this was strong enough evidence to arrest John Jr.
Kewish was tried twice before a jury. At his first trial his only defence was that he had not committed the crime. After 14 hours of deliberation the jury was unable to reach a verdict. A new trial was ordered when the jury foreman became ill and deliberations could not continue. There is evidence that a majority of this first jury believed Kewish to be either innocent of the crime, or so simple-minded that he was not responsible for the act. (According to one of the jurors, seven of the twelve believed he was not guilty.) At Kewish’s second trial his advocates added the further plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, submitting that either he had not committed the crime or if he had, his mental disability freed him of responsibility. Insanity was later supported by an examining physician’s statement that Kewish’s mind was unable to comprehend the moral turpitude of such a criminal act. After an hour’s deliberation the jury convicted him of patricide. The presiding deemster, William Drinkwater, sentenced Kewish to the mandatory punishment of death by hanging.
Although convicted, Kewish hoped to receive leniency from the British Government. The Lieutenant-Governor received several sworn statements intended to encourage leniency, including from the jurors of the first trial, his examining physician, and others. Kewish’s post-trial statements were inconsistent. At one point Kewish’s gaoler stated that Kewish admitted he had accidentally shot his father and hid the weapon in the thatch of an outhouse (where a bird gun was later found). At other times Kewish repeated his claims of innocence and requested a free pardon. The pitchfork had not been clearly identified; however, the Home Secretary advised the Queen that he could not recommend mercy. He felt the crime was premeditated, and committed from greed, and added that neither the deemster nor the jury had recommended mercy at the trial.
Manx law at the time required the British Crown to order the execution by positive act. Queen Victoria was displeased with this, and she indicated this in a letter to the Home Secretary. He apologised and promised to bring Manx law into compliance with that of England, which did not require such an order. Although expressing personal doubts about the case, she took his advice and indicated that the execution was to proceed.
Locally there was reluctance to become involved in the execution. Craftsmen initially refused to build the gallows, and an executioner, William Calcraft, had to be brought over from England to carry out the sentence. Kewish was hanged in Castle Rushen at Castletown on 1st August 1872 and he is buried there. It was the only non-public execution to take place under Manx law.
After the execution, Queen Victoria was petitioned to put an end to the death penalty. She declined, and it was not until 1993 that Tynwald abolished capital punishment in the Isle of Man. Five people were sentenced to death (for murder) on the island between 1973 and 1992, but all death sentences after Kewish’s were commuted to life imprisonment by the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom using the Crown’s Prerogative of Mercy.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Gary Oldman (63), Sonequa Martin-Green (36), Matthew Broderick (59), Timothy Dalton (75), Ruby Rose (35), Holly Hunter (63), Freema Agyeman (41), David Thewlis (58), Spike Lee (64), William Hurt (71), Bruce Willis (66), Glenn Close (74), Ursula Andress (85), Harvey Weinstein (69), Abigail Cowen (23), Queen Latifah (51), Brad Dourif (71), Luc Besson (62), Irene Cara (62), Rob Lowe (57), Kurt Russell (70), Gary Sinise (66), John Boyega (29), Patrick Duffy (72), Alexandra Daddario (35), Alan Tudyk (50), Aisling Bea (37), Jerome Flynn (58), Erik Estrada (72), Judah Friedlander (52), Jimmy Nail (67), Eva Longoria (46), David Cronenberg (78), Judd Hirsch (86), and Will.i.am (46).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Trevor Peacock, 89, English actor (The Vicar of Dibley, Hamlet, Fred Claus), complications from dementia.
- Cliff Simon, 58, South African actor (Stargate SG-1), kiteboarding accident.
- Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu, 72, South African royal, King of the Zulus (since 1971), complications from diabetes.
- Murray Walker, 97, British motorsport commentator (Channel 4, BBC Sport, ITV Sport).
- Marvelous Marvin Hagler, 66, American boxer, undisputed middleweight champion (1980–1987).
In Other News
For those of us of a certain age, between buying your records on vinyl and then on CD, the cassette tape was your goto for music, especially if you wanted to record the Top 40 to play in the car. Such joy and wonder was brought to you by Lou Ottens, who sadly died at the age of 94 last week. Ottens, the head of product development at the Belgian Hasselt branch of Philips during the 1960’s wanted to make something small and more user friendly than a LP record. Unsurprisingly, Ottens’ invention was a great success worldwide, especially after the release of Sony’s Walkman. More than 100 billion cassettes have been sold since its launch in 1963, but the cassette tape more or less disappeared after the release of the Compact Disc, which was also developed by Ottens and his team of engineers twenty years later. Decades later, Ottens revealed in an interview that back in the 1960s he was completely unaware of the groundbreaking research he and his colleagues were doing. “Well, no. We were little boys who had fun playing. We didn’t feel like we were doing anything big. It was a kind of sport.” How all tapes morphed into a Queen album whilst stored in your car glove compartment is still unknown, scientists believe it could be a kind of magic…
Sarah Harding was told by a doctor that Christmas 2020 “would probably be her last” following her breast cancer diagnosis. In August, the Girls Aloud star shared a selfie from hospital to social media as she announced that the cancer had advanced to other parts of her body. In an extract of her book Hear Me Out, the singer has now revealed that she underwent a mastectomy and intensive chemotherapy since her diagnosis in August. While it initially “seemed like the chemo was working”, she writes, the cancer has spread further, with a secondary tumour growing on either the base of her spine or her brain. “In December my doctor told me that the upcoming Christmas would probably be my last,” Harding said. “I don’t want an exact prognosis. I don’t know why anyone would want that. Comfort and being as pain-free as possible is what’s important to me now.” The 39-year-old said that while she is considering treatment options, she doesn’t want to have radiotherapy and lose her hair “with no guarantees at the end of it”. “It might seem vain thinking about my hair, but my thinking was that if there’s a chance I’ve only got six months, then I’ve got six months,” she wrote. “Losing my hair probably wasn’t going to change that, so if there’s another way to manage the disease or treat it, then let’s do that. I don’t want to feel like I have to spend whatever time I have left hiding away.” She also revealed that she nearly died of sepsis in hospital and had to be put into a coma for two weeks.
On This Day
- 1900 – The Gold Standard Act is ratified, placing the United States currency on the gold standard.
- 1926 – The El Virilla train accident, Costa Rica, kills 248 people and wounds another 93 when a train falls off a bridge over the Río Virilla between Heredia and Tibás.
- 1964 – Jack Ruby is convicted of killing Lee Harvey Oswald, the assumed assassin of John F. Kennedy
- 1883 – Karl Marx, German philosopher and theorist (b. 1818).
- 1932 – George Eastman, US inventor & businessman, founded Eastman Kodak (b. 1854).
- 1999 – Kirk Alyn, American actor (b. 1910).
- 2010 – Peter Graves, American actor (b. 1926).
- 2014 – Tony Benn, English politician, Postmaster General of the UK (b. 1925).
- 2018 – Jim Bowen, English stand-up comedian and TV personality (b. 1937).
- 2018 – Stephen Hawking, English physicist and author (b. 1942).
They’re Sill Alive?!?!
Dead Pool favourite Pete Doherty was always top of the class. Born in Hexham, Northumberland, his dad John was a major in the Royal Signals and his mum Jacqueline Michels a lance corporal in the Royal Nursing Corps. An exemplary student, despite moving around the country as a military child, he achieved 7 A*s in his GCSEs, two As at A-Level and went on a poetry tour of Russia with the British Council when he was 16 after winning a competition. After college, he moved to London to study English Literature at the University of London but quit a year in; got a flat with muso Carl Barat and co-founded The Libertines in 1997.
By 2002, their album Up the Bracket had turned the band into mainstream indie stars, but less than two years later, Pete – who turned 42 on 12th March – got kicked out of the band for abandoning rehab amid a spiralling drug addiction. Years of turbulence followed, from an explosive relationship with Kate Moss to a string of arrests and failed rehab stays and the tragic drugs deaths of some of those closest to him. But what became of Pete after his initial foray into fame….
He met Kate Moss in January 2005 at Kate’s 31st birthday party and had planned to marry in the summer 2007. Pete famously drew a picture of them using his own blood, which sold for £5,000 last year. But their split was an acrimonious one, with the star accusing his ex of burning his beloved teddy Pandy – claims she has never responded too. Then in 2012, when Kate was married to The Kills star Jamie Hince, Pete claimed she called him out of the blue to make peace and check on his welfare. “I got a call which came as a surprise as we haven’t exchanged a word since it ended. And believe me, it ended nastily. But she was friendly and just asked me what I was up to. She wanted to know why I hadn’t written any songs recently and whether I was still taking drugs. She told me that despite everything that had happened between us, she was still rooting for me and that was nice. It means a lot to me to know that.” Meanwhile, he fathered a son, with Liam Gallagher’s ex Lisa Moorish in 2003 and a daughter with South African model Lindi Hingston in 2011.
In 2015, Pete’s friend and former Libertines bandmate Alan Wass, 33, died from a heart attack after being ‘unlawfully’ given an injection of heroin, an inquest at Westminster coroner’s court ruled. Five years earlier, Goldsmith heiress Robyn Whitehead, 27, died at a Hackney flat where she had been making a documentary with Pete and his friend, fellow musician, Pete Wolfe, in January 2010. The inquest at Poplar Coroner’s Court in September 2011 found she had died from heroin poisoning and recorded a verdict of misadventure. As a result of the investigation, Pete was sentenced to six months in jail for possession of cocaine. In 2006 Mark Blanco fell from the balcony of a flat in Whitechapel, east London after rowing with people inside. Pete was caught leaving the scene on CCTV as Blanco lay dying on the pavement. Pete denied any involvement in his death and said he ran away because he was in possession of drugs. He told NME: “I can understand it does look dodgy. How ashamed do you think I am that I stepped over the body and legged it down the street? The film footage made me feel sick, sick to the stomach. Completely ashamed. I’m stepping over a dying man… I was on bail at the time. I had pockets full of drugs.” The coroner ruled out suicide and ordered the Metropolitan police to reopen the investigation, but in 2011 the CPS rules that there was insufficient evidence to charge anyone in relation to his death. Asked about the tragedies he has been associated with, Pete said: “I wasn’t even in the fucking country when Alan died. I saw Robyn the night before. Mark Blanco … well, fuck knows what happened to him.”
Before her death from alcohol poisoning in July 2011, tragic Amy had been good friends with Pete. But in 2012 he claimed they’d actually been lovers but said it ended badly. “This is difficult for me to admit. But, yes, it’s true. Amy and I were lovers,” he said. “I loved her then and, well, I still do today. But towards the end, as only lovers can, she became quite mean and cruel to me. She didn’t suffer fools… and believe me, she had a mean right hook.”
In his early days in London, Pete has told how he funded his addiction by working as a gay prostitute. In Libertine’s biography, Kids in Riot, he said: “I was working in a bar, selling drugs, working on a building site, writing poetry in the graveyard shift at The King’s Head – and I was wanking off old queens for like £20.”
He’s attempted rehab numerous times over the years, and EastEnders’ star June Brown, who played Dot Cotton, even once stepped in and offered him a lifeline. June, 94, ran a charity that helped pay for addicts to get treatment at a Thai monastery called Thamkrabok, which claims to have one of the highest success rates in the world. “Anyone can go,” she said at the time. “We will pay your fare, all you need is to commit to treatment. I’m a huge Libertines fan. It’d be a marvellous place for Pete to kick his addiction.” Pete signed up but sadly only lasted a few days before he fled for the bright lights on Bangkok. After a second stint in Thailand in 2014 he declared that he’d beaten his demons once and for all, but unsurprisingly relapsed within ’10 minutes’ of getting home to Margate.
During his last major interview in 2019, he admitted he was still as addicted as ever but lamented what he could be and achieve if he wasn’t controlled by his hunger for drugs. “A part of me would like to be clean. Just so I can feel things. There are so many people in my life who deserve better. It really is a mental deficiency.I’d be a force to be reckoned with! I’d have money and self-respect and clean hands.”
Pete still lives in Margate and was hospitalised in 2019 after pricking his finger on a hedgehog spike and at 42 years of age is still a very good shout as a Maverick.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Jaimie Alexander (37), Michael Caine (88), Jamie Bell (35), Billy Crystal (73), Quincy Jones (88), Harry Melling (32), Annabeth Gish (50), William H. Macy (71), Danny Masterson (45), Titus Welliver (59), Aaron Eckhart (53), Liza Minnelli (75), Jodie Comer (28), Thora Birch (39), Johnny Knoxville (50), John Barrowman (54), Olivia Wilde (37), Sharon Stone (63), Jon Hamm (50), Chuck Norris (81), Oscar Isaac (42), Juliette Binoche (57), Freddie Prinze Jr. (45), Aidan Quinn (62), Cynthia Rothrock (64), and Micky Dolenz (76).
I bet those of you who listed Jimmy Greaves are kicking yourselves now that his commentating partner Ian St John has died! Anyhow, a news light edition this week, everyone must have been keeping their heads down.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Ian St John, 82, Scottish football player (Motherwell, Liverpool, national team) and manager.
- Dick Sheppard, 90, British stuntman (The Italian Job, James Bond films).
- Jahmil French, 29, Canadian actor (Degrassi: The Next Generation, Soundtrack, Remedy).
- Bunny Wailer, 73, Jamaican reggae singer (Bob Marley and the Wailers) and songwriter, complications from a stroke.
- Nicola Pagett, 75, British actress (Upstairs, Downstairs, Anne of the Thousand Days, There’s a Girl in My Soup), brain tumour.
- Tony Hendra, 79, British comedian and actor (This Is Spinal Tap), complications from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
In Other News
The Duke of Edinburgh has undergone a successful procedure for a pre-existing heart condition but will stay in hospital for a few more days to recuperate. The 99-year-old was treated at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in central London on Wednesday. He has now spent 16 nights since he first went to hospital last month, his longest ever stay. In a brief statement, Buckingham Palace said Prince Philip’s procedure was to treat a “pre-existing heart condition” but did not give any further details as to his condition. “His Royal Highness will remain in hospital for treatment, rest and recuperation for a number of days,” the statement added. The Queen’s husband was first admitted to the private King Edward VII’s Hospital in London more than two weeks ago as a “precautionary measure” after feeling unwell. However, on Monday he was transferred to the NHS St Bartholomew’s Hospital – which is a specialist cardiac centre – for “testing and observation” on his heart condition, the Palace reported. On Wednesday his daughter-in-law Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, said he had “slightly improved” but still “hurt at moments”. He has also been visited by his eldest son Prince Charles, who made a 200-mile round trip and stayed for around 30 minutes. The Duke of Edinburgh has been rarely seen in public after he retired from royal duties in 2017. He has however been treated at hospital for various ailments, most recently spending four nights in December 2019 at King Edward VII’s Hospital for what was only described as a “pre-existing condition”.
The Wanted singer Tom Parker’s life fell apart last year when he was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour at the age of just 32, but after a number of months of treatment, his wife Kelsey has given some positive news. Appearing on an episode of Loose Women, Kelsey confirmed the amazing news that Tom’s tumour has shrunk, revealing ‘we’ve had a significant reduction’. Chatting to the panel via a video stream, mum-of-two Kelsey said, “Tom’s doing really well. We had a meeting last Thursday and he’s just had another stable scan, so he’s doing so well. We’ve only just started our second round of chemotherapy, so we’ve had radio and chemo, we’ve had a bit of a break, because he had a bit of a dodgy liver, and now we’ve just started the second round of chemo. The tumour has shrunk, we’ve had a significant reduction. We were all just in tears when we got that news in January.” Speaking about her positivity, and how it’s hard to keep up, she said: “Not so much now, in the beginning yes because Tom had lost so much weight, he wasn’t eating, he was down to 8 and a half stone, Tom’s a slight person anyway, him losing weight, he couldn’t afford to. It was more the frustration, that’s what made me upset. I found it really hard to remain positive then. Now, after we’ve had this good news as well, we’re on this rollercoaster, we’re going forward and we’ve just to remain as positive as we possibly can.”
On This Day
- 1876 – Alexander Graham Bell is granted a patent for an invention he calls the “telephone”.
- 1965 – Bloody Sunday: A group of 600 civil rights marchers is brutally attacked by state and local police in Selma, Alabama.
- 1989 – Iran and the United Kingdom break diplomatic relations after a fight over Salman Rushdie and his controversial novel, The Satanic Verses.
- 1809 – Jean-Pierre Blanchard, French inventor, pioneer in balloon flight (b. 1753).
- 1988 – Divine, American drag queen and film actor (b. 1945).
- 1999 – Stanley Kubrick, American director, producer, and screenwriter (b. 1928).
- 2004 – Paul Winfield, American actor (b. 1941).
Last Woman Executed in Canada
Marguerite Ruest-Pitre, was a Canadian conspirator in a mass murder carried out when Albert Guay bombed an airliner, killing all 23 people on the plane. She was the 13th and last woman to be hanged in Canada, she was executed on 9th January 1953 in Montreal, Quebec.
Pitre was born in Saint-Octave-de-Métis, Quebec. She ran a boarding house at Saint-Roch, and became known by her neighbours and later by the press as “Madame le Corbeau” (“Madame Raven”) because she always wore black clothes.
Self-described jeweller and watchmaker Albert Guay—although at his trial it was suggested that he was actually a watch and jewellery salesman—was having an extramarital affair with 19-year-old waitress Marie-Ange Robitaille. Marguerite Pitre helped to arrange liaisons between them. Guay decided to murder his wife, the former Rita Morel; after he considered poisoning her, he finally decided to kill her by bombing an airliner on which she was embarked as a passenger. He asked Pitre’s brother, clockmaker Généreux Ruest, to manufacture a bomb using dynamite, batteries, and an alarm clock. Pitre purchased the dynamite at a hardware store, claiming it was to be used to clear a field.
On 9th September 1949, Rita Guay was scheduled to board Canadian Pacific Air Lines Flight 108, a Douglas DC-3 aircraft, at L’Ancienne-Lorette, a suburb of Quebec City, where it made a scheduled stopover during a flight from Montreal to Baie-Comeau. On the day of the flight, Albert Guay purchased a $10,000 insurance policy on his wife, which he would attempt to collect three days later. Pitre delivered the package containing the bomb to the plane, supposedly for mail delivery, Albert secreted it in Rita’s luggage, and Rita boarded the plane for the flight to Baie-Comeau, unaware of the danger.
The flight was delayed five minutes at takeoff; this apparently thwarted Guay’s desire to have the explosion take place over the Saint Lawrence River, which would have made forensic examination of the crash impossible with the technology then available to forensic scientists. The bomb instead exploded over Cap Tourmente near Sault-au-Cochon in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, causing the plane to crash and killing Rita Guay and all of the other 22 people on board.
Guay was arrested two weeks after the crash and put on trial in February 1950; he was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, and was executed in Montreal on 12th January 1951.
After his conviction, Guay issued a statement, claiming that Ruest and Pitre had knowingly abetted his plans; it has been speculated that Guay’s motive in denouncing his accomplices was to buy time to delay his own execution, believing that he would be called to testify at their trials. As a result, Ruest was arrested on 6th June 1950, and Pitre on 14th June 1950. Ruest maintained his innocence, claiming that he thought the bomb was to be used to clear tree stumps from a field. He was tried, with Guay testifying against him, and convicted in November 1950; sentenced to death by hanging, and he was executed in Montreal on 25th July 1952.
Pitre attempted suicide, but failed. Her trial began on 6th March 1951. She, too, maintained her innocence, claiming that Albert Guay had told her that the package she was transporting on the day of the bombing contained a statue. Albert Guay already had been executed and therefore could not testify against her, but she was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging.
Marguerite Pitre arrived at Bordeaux Prison in Montreal at midnight on 8/9th January 1953, accompanied by two nuns, and climbed to the prison’s third floor. After a few moments with her escorts, she entered the ante-room where the hangman was waiting for her. She walked to the gallows at 12:35 a.m. on 9th January 1953, and was pronounced dead 15 minutes later. Jail authorities said she displayed no fear and that “everything was normal.”.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Bryan Cranston (65), Tobias Menzies (47), Rachel Weisz (51), Ellen Muth (40), Tom Arnold (62), Amy Okuda (32), Shaquille O’Neal (49), Alan Davies (55), Jolene Blalock (46), Eva Mendes (47), Dean Stockwell (85), Jake Lloyd (32), Matt Lucas (47), Paul Blackthorne (52), Fred Williamson (83), Penn Jillette (66), Catherine O’Hara (67), Patsy Kensit (53), Dominique Pinon (66), Julie Bowen (51), Jessica Biel (39), Miranda Richardson (63), Charlie Brooker (50), Bryce Dallas Howard (40), Daniel Craig (53), Nathalie Emmanuel (32), Rebel Wilson (41), Gates McFadden (72), Jon Bon Jovi (59), Chris Martin (44), Alexander Armstrong (51), Zack Snyder (55), Jensen Ackles (43), Ron Howard (67), Javier Bardem (52), Lupita Nyong’o (38), Jack Davenport (48), Dirk Benedict (76), Justin Bieber (27), Paul Hollywood (55), Roger Daltrey (77), and Harry Belafonte (94).
What a shit week for deaths! I struggled to find anyone noteworthy in the Wiki listings up until 11am on Sunday when Johnny Briggs was announced; you’d think that there would be one or two we’d know, especially since we’re still in the middle of a pandemic! Anyhow, read on…
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Ronald Pickup, 80, English actor (Darkest Hour, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Mission).
- Peter Gotti, 81, American mobster (Gambino crime family).
- Mike Burns, 84, British-born Irish newscaster (RTÉ News at One, This Week, World Report).
- Johnny Briggs, 85, English actor (Coronation Street, Man About the House, Carry On England)
In Other News
Tiger Woods is “fortunate to be alive” following a serious car crash in California, police said on Tuesday. The golfer was conscious and had serious injuries to both legs when found at the crash scene. Authorities said the 45-year-old was in a “serious” condition but was able to communicate with them when they arrived on the scene in Rancho Palo Verdes, California. His car was going downhill on a steep and winding road when it crossed the centre, crashed into the curb and rolled over several times into brush and a tree. A neighbour who lives about 15 metres (50 ft) from the accident spot, a notoriously dangerous stretch of road in the area, called 911 at 7:12am local time. Authorities say that the airbags deployed inside the Genesis GV80 SUV, which was loaned to Woods for the week, and that he had been wearing a seatbelt. Fire chief Daryl Osby said that firefighters used pry tools and an axe to remove Woods from the car through the windscreen. Sheriff Alex Villanueva told a press conference that deputies had found “no evidence of impairment” from drugs or alcohol at the crash site. “No impairment was found at this time but it will be the subject of the investigation,” he said. “It would have been a fatal if the interior of the Genesis GV80 SUV had not remained intact in the crash. The interior of the car was intact which kind of gave him the cushion to survive,” said Mr Villanueva. Mr Villanueva added that there were no signs of braking or skid marks on the road and that it appeared Mr Woods had been “going at a relatively greater speed than normal. Because it is downhill, it slopes, and also it curves. That area has a high frequency of accidents. It’s not uncommon.”
Deputy Carlos Gonzalez was the first officer on the scene and described Mr Woods as “calm and lucid” when he spoke to him. “Unfortunately, Mr Woods was not able to stand up under his own power. Mr Woods was seated in the driver’s seat, I made contact with them and made sure he was able to speak to me,” he said. “He seemed calm and lucid at that time. I kept him calm until LA County Fire arrived on the scene. I spoke to him, I asked him what his name was and he said his name was ‘Tiger’. And at that moment I immediately recognised him. I asked him if he knew where he was, what time of day, to make sure he was oriented. He seemed as though he was lucid and calm. He did not seem concerned about his injuries at the time, which is common in traffic accidents when people are in shock. It’s a traumatic experience. It’s not uncommon for people to be focused on unimportant things or even if they are in pain, they may not feel it until much later.” The deputy added that Woods was wearing a seatbelt may have contributed to saving his life. Woods was due to tape two “teaching lessons” at the Rolling Hills Country Club with NFL quarterbacks Drew Brees and Justin Herbert when the accident happened. Officials said there was also a second vehicle accident caused by people slowing to see what had happened, but no one was hurt.
Former Scotland, Manchester United and Leeds United defender Gordon McQueen has been diagnosed with vascular dementia, his family have confirmed. The 68-year-old, whose career began at St Mirren, played 30 times for Scotland and won the English First Division with Leeds and FA Cup at Manchester United. McQueen went on to manage Airdrie and coach at Middlesbrough, before working as a television pundit. His family said that the former centre-back was formally diagnosed in January. “As a family we felt it was important to let people know, particularly if raising awareness can help others in similar situations,” they said in a statement. “Whilst as a family we’ve found it hard to come to terms with the changes in dad, he has no regrets about his career and has lived life to the full. He had unforgettable experiences in his playing days with Scotland, Manchester United and Leeds United, and also took so much from his coaching and TV work in more recent times.” The family statement, attributed to McQueen’s wife Yvonne, daughters Hayley and Anna, and son Edward, said that McQueen “wants footballers of today’s generation to know there may be risks with persistent heading of the ball”.
A rooster that had been fitted with a knife for an illegal cockfight has killed its owner in southern India. The bird’s owner was impaled in the groin by the knife as the animal tried to escape. The man died on the way to hospital from a loss of blood. Police are now searching for 15 more people involved in the event, which took place in the village of Lothunur in Telangana state earlier this week. The animal was held at a police station before being transferred to a farm. Police said the animal was being readied to take part in a fight when it tried to escape. Its owner attempted to catch it but was struck by the 7cm-long knife on the animal’s leg during the struggle. Those involved in the event face charges of manslaughter, illegal betting and hosting a cockfight. Cockfighting was made illegal in India in 1960 but fights are still relatively common in rural areas such as Telangana with many falling around the Hindu festival of Sankranti. It’s not the first time an owner has been killed by their rooster. Last year a man in Andhra Pradesh died after he was hit in the neck by a blade attached to his rooster.
On This Day
- 1935 – DuPont scientist Wallace Carothers invents nylon.
- 1947 – February 28 Incident: In Taiwan, civil disorder is put down with the loss of an estimated 30,000 civilians.
- 1953 – James Watson and Francis Crick announce to friends that they have determined the chemical structure of DNA; the formal announcement takes place on April 25 following publication in April’s Nature.
- 1954 – The first colour television sets using the NTSC standard are offered for sale to the general public.
- 1958 – A school bus in Floyd County, Kentucky hits a wrecker truck and plunges down an embankment into the rain-swollen Levisa Fork river. The driver and 26 children die in what remains one of the worst school bus accidents in U.S. history.
- 1975 – In London, an underground train fails to stop at Moorgate terminus station and crashes into the end of the tunnel, killing 43 people.
- 1983 – The final episode of M*A*S*H airs, with almost 106 million viewers. It still holds the record for the highest viewership of a season finale.
- 1993 – The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents raid the Branch Davidian church in Waco, Texas with a warrant to arrest the group’s leader David Koresh. Four ATF agents and six Davidians die in the initial raid, starting a 51-day standoff.
- 2013 – Pope Benedict XVI resigns as the pope of the Catholic Church, becoming the first pope to do so since Pope Gregory XII, in 1415.
- 1998 – Dermot Morgan, Irish comedian and actor (b. 1952).
- 2011 – Jane Russell, American actress and singer (b. 1921).
- 2016 – George Kennedy, American actor (b. 1925).
- 2019 – André Previn, German-American pianist, conductor, and composer. (b. 1929).
- 2020 – Freeman Dyson, British-born American physicist and mathematician (b. 1923).
What will happen when Prince Philip dies?
After marrying in 1947, the Duke of Edinburgh has been the longest-reigning consort in British history, standing beside The Queen for over 73 years. At the age of 99, the Duke has rarely been seen in public in the past few years, but earlier this week it was reported he was admitted to hospital ‘as a precautionary measure’.
We know Buckingham Palace is prepared with two very different protocols when the Royals die. The plan in place for when the Queen passes is known as “London Bridge is Down.” But what will happen when Prince Philip dies?
The Dukes not-so-secret codename is called “Operation Forth Bridge”. The name refers to a railway bridge linking Edinburgh to Fife.
When Philip pegs it, the Lord Chamberlain will consult with the Prime Minister, and then seek the Queen’s specific wishes regarding the death announcement. The rest of the world won’t find out the news until Buckingham Palace officially announces it to the media, most likely through the BBC, probably within hours. If the death occurs overnight, it is expected the death announcement will come at 8am. The UK will then enter a period of national mourning, where flags will be lowered to half-mast.
During this time the Queen will be given an eight day period of mourning where she is able to forgo her Royal duties and let someone stand in her place if needed. Following this time, she will likely return to her role but behind closed doors. Britain will then enter a 30 day mourning period. Once this longer period of mourning is over, the Queen will return to more public Royal duties and appearances.
As he is the Queen’s husband, the Duke of Edinburgh is entitled to a full state funeral. But in typical Prince Philip style, he has apparently requested for people to not ‘make a fuss’ over his funeral, so although he is entitled to a large funeral, it’s unlikely to happen.
Philip, who is currently fighting an infection, has been closely involved in the arrangements for his funeral. They are being co-ordinated by the Lord Chamberlain’s Office at Buckingham Palace. Based on Prince Philip’s wishes, it is believed only family, friends and heads of state from Commonwealth countries will be allowed to attend the funeral. Once it comes to laying his body to rest, his body will be buried in the grounds of Windsor Castle in Frogmore Gardens. This is a very personal place for the Queen and Prince Philip as it’s closed off to the public and is often where she walks her dogs.
Codenames have also been used in the past relating to plans for their funerals. These codenames were first invented so that switchboard operators couldn’t learn of Royal deaths ahead of any public announcements. For example, when King George VI passed away in 1952, the phrase “Hyde Park Corner” was used to communicate with government officials about his death.
For 21st century Royals, bridges have been used as codenames. For Queen Elizabeth, Operation London Bridge will be used for her death and funeral. Operation Tay Bridge was the name used for the Queen Mother and Diana’s deaths. Operation Menai Bridge refers to the funeral plan for Charles, Prince of Wales. Let’s see if they survive the week…
Last Week’s Birthdays
John Turturro (64), Rae Dawn Chong (69), Mercedes Ruehl (73), Stephanie Beacham (74), Kate Mara (38), Adam Baldwin (59), Timothy Spall (64), Richard Coyle (49), Chase Masterson (58), Bill Duke (78), Michael Bolton (68), Téa Leoni (55), Sean Astin (50), Lee Evans (57), Daniel Kaluuya (32), Billy Zane (55), Ben Miller (55), Edward James Olmos (74), Dennis Waterman (73), Emily Blunt (38), Dakota Fanning (27), Kelly Macdonald (45), Samara Weaving (29), Josh Gad (40), Thomas Jane (52), Drew Barrymore (46), Jeri Ryan (53), Kyle MacLachlan (62), Julie Walters (71), James Hong (92), Josh Helman (35), Sheila Hancock (88), and Nigel Planer (68).
Let’s dish out some points!!! With the tragically delightful death of the first class malicious idiot known as Rush Limbaugh, 80 points are happily awarded to Abi, Lee, and to myself! But not to be outdone, Ceri listed him as her Cert, so an amazing 180 points awarded; which cements her position at the top of the table for the time being, but has she peaked too soon? Well done everyone!
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Carlos Menem, 90, Argentine politician, President (1989–1999), complications from urinary tract infection.
- Doug Mountjoy, 78, Welsh snooker player.
- Rush Limbaugh, 70, American radio host (The Rush Limbaugh Show), author and political commentator, lung cancer.
- Prince Markie Dee, 52, American rapper (The Fat Boys), heart failure.
- Suzy Miller, 72, British model, Page 3 Girl, actress, dancer, & choreographer, lung cancer.
In Other News
Somehow, the Prince of Wales has managed to visit the central London hospital where his father, the Duke of Edinburgh, remains after feeling unwell. Philip was admitted to the King Edward VII’s hospital as a precaution on Tuesday. A Buckingham Palace source us the duke is likely to remain in hospital into next week. The exact reason for his admission has not been disclosed but his stay is not related to coronavirus as he and Betty had their jabs a few weeks ago. A palace source previously said the duke, who is due to turn 100 in June, had walked into the hospital in Marylebone unaided. Prince Charles, 72, spent about 30 minutes at the hospital on Saturday afternoon, regardless of us peasants not being allowed to do the same. He returned to his Highgrove residence after the visit, a local 208 mile round trip. Apparently, under England’s current coronavirus lockdown rules, visiting someone in a hospital is considered a “reasonable excuse” to leave home, although many hospitals have put significant limits on visitors. The King Edward VII’s hospital website says visitors “will only be considered in exceptional circumstances” during the pandemic. Does that mean he’s at death’s door or just privileged?
Linda Nolan has told us that she’s “so scared” of dying. The Nolans star is living with incurable breast cancer, which has now spread to her liver. “I am scared, I won’t lie. I am so scared of dying,” she shared with us at Dead Pool Towers. Linda added that she and her sisters were raised Catholic, and as such she thinks a great deal about whether there’s an afterlife – and whether she’ll get to see her husband Brian and sister Bernie again, both of which died to cancer. “I look at my great-nieces and nephews and think how much I’d love to see them growing up. That’s hard,” she continued. “I want to be here when they have fabulous moments at school and their prom. Then other times I think to myself, ‘Well, you will be here, so shut up! I am really positive, but there are some days when I just give in.” Linda currently has chemotherapy tablets, five in the morning and five at night, and heads to the hospital once every three weeks to have her bloods done and to speak with her consultant. Meanwhile, there’s “no sign” of cancer at all in her sister Anne anymore. “It’s amazing news,” Linda said bitterly, “She got that news the week before I went in and mine had fucking spread like melted butter over a toasted crumpet.” Meanwhile Linda’s launched her own gin, vowing her cancer won’t stop her from cashing in as much as she can. With that mind, you might want to read her upcoming book Stronger Together, out in April, which tells how the sisters came together to exploit the dying one for a mediocre amount of cash and media coverage.
Bob Dole, the former longtime Kansas senator and 1996 Republican presidential nominee, said on Thursday that he has stage 4 lung cancer. “Recently, I was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. My first treatment will begin on Monday,” Dole, 97, said in a statement. “While I certainly have some hurdles ahead, I also know that I join millions of Americans who face significant health challenges of their own,” Dole added. Dole served as a U.S. senator from Kansas from 1969 to 1996 and also served as both the Senate majority and minority leader during his long career. He was the GOP presidential nominee in 1996, losing to Bill Clinton. President Joe Biden visited his ‘close friend’ and said the former Republican Senator is ‘doing well’.
Jeanette Lee, the professional pool player often known by her nickname “The Black Widow,” is battling stage 4 ovarian cancer. Lee, 49, announced her terminal diagnosis last Wednesday. A single mother to three girls — Savannah, 10, Chloe, 11, and Cheyenne, 16 — Lee said in the release, “I intend to bring the same resolve I brought to the billiards table to this fight.” A GoFundMe has been created in Lee’s name, and its purpose is to “ensure that the girls are appropriately cared for and can afford to go to college.” “Jeanette’s largest and most pressing concern is the well being of her three young girls,” the fundraiser’s description reads, in part. “The future care, well-being and education of her girls is the biggest cause of anxiety for her.” It also went into more details about her diagnosis: “The cancer has fully metastasized into her lymph nodes and the prognosis is dire. At this stage, her doctors say she has a few months to a year left to live.” Lee began playing pool in 1989, and has been in the sport professionally for 30 years. She was ranked the world’s No. 1 female pool player in the ’90s and has come out on top of various competitions over the years.
On This Day
- 1804 – The first self-propelling steam locomotive makes its outing at the Pen-y-Darren Ironworks in Wales.
- 1947 – In New York City, Edwin Land demonstrates the first “instant camera”, the Polaroid Land Camera.
- 1952 – The British government, under Winston Churchill, abolishes identity cards in the UK to “set the people free”.
- 1965 – Malcolm X is assassinated while giving a talk at the Audubon Ballroom in Harlem.
- 1965 – Malcolm X, American minister and activist (b. 1925; assassinated).
- 2002 – John Thaw, English actor and producer (b. 1942).
- 2018 – Billy Graham, American evangelist (b. 1918).
- 2019 – Peter Tork, American musician and actor (b. 1942).
Last Week’s Birthdays
Elliot Page (34), Jennifer Love Hewitt (42), Sophie Turner (25), Tuppence Middleton (34), Kelsey Grammer (66), Tyne Daly (75), Tituss Burgess (42), Anthony Daniels (75), Martha Hackett (60), Charlotte Church (35), Chelsea Peretti (42), Anthony Head (67), Sidney Poitier (94), Brenda Blethyn (75), Rihanna (33), Cindy Crawford (55), Trevor Noah (37), Millie Bobby Brown (17), Benicio Del Toro (54), Jeff Daniels (66), Ophelia Lovibond (35), Ray Winstone (64), Leslie Ash (61), John Travolta (67), Molly Ringwald (53), Matt Dillon (57), Cybill Shepherd (71), Dr. Dre (56), Yoko Ono (88), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (40), Rene Russo (67), Bonnie Wright (30), Lou Diamond Phillips (59), Dominic Purcell (51), Paris Hilton (40), Rory Kinnear (45), Alejandro Jodorowsky (92), Barry Humphries (87), Patricia Routledge (92), Brenda Fricker (76), Michael Jordan (58), Ed Sheeran (30), Elizabeth Olsen (32), The Weeknd (31), Christopher Eccleston (57), LeVar Burton (64), Ice-T (63), Amanda Holden (50), June Brown (94), John McEnroe (62), Jane Seymour (70), and Matt Groening (67).
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Dai Davies, 72, Welsh footballer (Wrexham, Everton, national team), pancreatic cancer.
- Rynagh O’Grady, 66, Irish actress (Far and Away, Father Ted, Breakfast on Pluto).
- Anthony Sowell, 61, American serial killer.
- Mary Wilson, 76, American singer (The Supremes), hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease.
- Larry Flynt, 78, American publisher (Hustler), founder of Larry Flynt Publications, heart failure.
- Rowena Morrill, 76, American fantasy illustrator.
In Other News
Ashley Judd has been taken to hospital following a “catastrophic” accident in the Congo after suffering a shattered leg.. The actress, 52, revealed the news during an an Instagram Live that she was resting in a “trauma unit in beautiful South Africa” after sustaining “massive catastrophic injuries” during a rainforest excursion. Judd said that she had been travelling in the Congo when she tripped over a fallen tree. She recalled lying on the forest floor for five hours, and “howling like an animal” while being carried back to her camp by her “Congolese brothers”. She added that she faded in and out of consciousness during the journey out of the rainforest and to the capital of Kinshasa, and had kept herself awake by reciting Bible passages. She was finally taken to hospital in South Africa after what she described as an “incredibly harrowing” experience. In the Instagram Live, Judd, said that the accident was a reminder of her privilege as a person of means travelling in the Congo, explaining: “The difference between a Congolese person and me is disaster insurance that allowed me, 55 hours after my accident, to get to an operating table in South Africa.”
Fernando Alonso suffered a broken jaw after he was involved in a road accident while cycling, his Formula One team have confirmed. The 39-year-old suffered the accident while riding in Switzerland on Thursday. The Spanish driver was due to return to the grid this season following two years away. And while his injuries are understandably serious, Alpine F1 expect him to be “fully operational” by the time the season begins in Bahrain next month. A statement from the team read: “Following his cycling accident yesterday Fernando Alonso was kept under observation in hospital in Switzerland. “Medics discovered a fracture in his upper jaw and conducted a successful corrective operation. The attending medical team are satisfied with his progress. Fernando will remain under observation in hospital for a further 48 hours. Looking forward, after a few days of complete rest, he will be able to progressively resume training. We expect him to be fully operational to undertake preparation for the season.” In 2018, Alonso quit the sport and set his sights on becoming only the second driver since Britain’s Graham Hill to complete the so-called Triple Crown – winning the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Mans 24 Hours and Indy 500. Although he won the famous sportscar endurance race in 2018 and 2019 he has not been able to crack the Indy 500, despite a remarkable effort on his first appearance back in 2017.
As you all know, I had written a piece on Capt. Tom Moore for last weeks edition, but I chickened out publishing it because I felt it was edging on going a little too far. Well, somebody didn’t listen to their own inner monologue and has now been charged in connection with an offensive social media tweet about the dead Captain. The 35-year-old man is due to appear in court in Lanarkshire later this week! A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “On Friday 5th February 2021, we received a report of an offensive tweet about Sir Captain Tom Moore who died on Tuesday 2nd February. A 35-year-old man has subsequently been arrested and charged in connection with communication offences and is due to appear at Lanark Sheriff Court on Wednesday 17th February.” I have no idea what was tweeted, but I’m fairly sure it wasn’t as bad as what I wrote last week! Maybe I did make the correct judgement call? Looks like you can’t make offence online nowadays without finding yourself cancelled or arrested.
On This Day
- 1779 – James Cook is killed by Native Hawaiians near Kealakekua on the Island of Hawaii.
- 1849 – James Knox Polk becomes the first serving President of the United States to have his photograph taken.
- 1852 – Great Ormond St Hospital for Sick Children, the first hospital in England to provide in-patient beds specifically for children, is founded in London.
- 1924 – The Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company changes its name to International Business Machines Corporation (IBM).
- 1929 – Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre: Seven people, six of them gangster rivals of Al Capone‘s gang, are murdered in Chicago.
- 1989 – Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini issues a fatwa encouraging Muslims to kill Salman Rushdie, author of The Satanic Verses.
- 1990 – The Voyager 1 spacecraft takes the photograph of planet Earth that later becomes famous as Pale Blue Dot.
- 2005 – YouTube is launched.
- 1779 – James Cook, English captain, cartographer, and explorer (b. 1728).
- 1975 – P. G. Wodehouse, English novelist and playwright (b. 1881).
- 1996 – Bob Paisley, English footballer and manager (b. 1919).
- 2010 – Dick Francis, Welsh jockey and author (b. 1920).
- 2018 – Morgan Tsvangirai, 2nd Prime Minister of Zimbabwe (b. 1952).
Anthony Sowell was an American serial killer and rapist known as the Cleveland Strangler. He was arrested in October 2009 after the bodies of eleven women were discovered by police at his home, in the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood of Cleveland, Ohio.
Sowell was one of seven children born to single parent Claudia “Gertude” Garrison. Seven other children belonging to Sowell’s sister also lived in the household, having moved in after her death following a chronic illness. According to Sowell’s niece, Leona Davis, Garrison subjected them to physical abuse while her own children watched from adjacent rooms. In one incident, Garrison forced Davis to strip naked in front of the other children, then whipped her with electrical cords until she bled. Sowell himself began raping his niece on an almost daily basis for two years, starting when she was 10. It was also reported by Davis that the other males in the household also participated in the rapes.
In 1989, Sowell attacked Melvette Sockwell, who was three months pregnant at the time, when she attempted to leave his home. He tied her up and choked her so badly that she thought that she was going to die. He was charged with kidnapping, rape, and attempted murder for which Sowell pled guilty and served a 15-year sentence. He was released from prison in 2005.
Unfortunately, this did not serve as a deterrent for his murderous actions. He said he was a master looking for a submissive partner to “tame” and neighbours complained of a foul odor coming from his home. He also, somehow, dated the niece of the Cleveland Mayor Frank G Jackson for a time, who smelled the decaying bodies but was told various different stories by Sowell. Somewhere between 2007-2008, she moved out.
No one knew about the bodies until 2009 when Latundra Billups was invited to Sowell’s home for a drink. After he had a couple of drinks, he assaulted, choked, and raped her. Billups went to the police who arrived with an arrest warrant. Sowell had fled, but he was captured two days later. Either way, police went inside which is when they started to find the bodies.
Much like John Wayne Gacy, Sowell’s 11 murder victims were found in and around his home. Bodies were found in the basement, in crawl spaces, in the backyard. One skull was found in a bucket. Most victims were killed by manual strangulation, leading to the name the Cleveland Strangler. Some of the bodies still had the ligatures used to kill them on them.
In addition to the murders, Sowell also raped three women. He would invite them home to smoke crack cocaine with him and then assault them. He would be charged with 11 counts of aggravated murder and 74 counts of rape, kidnapping, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse. Initially, he pled “not guilty by reason of insanity”, but later changed it to just “not guilty”. Sowell was convicted of his crimes and sentenced to death. He was still exhausting his appeals as late as May 2020.
On January 21st 2021, he began receiving end-of-life care at the Franklin Medical Centre for a terminal illness and died on the 8th February. His last meal has not been released.
Last Week’s Birthdays
Simon Pegg (51), Danai Gurira (43), Andrew Robinson (79), Neal McDonough (55), Mena Suvari (42), Stockard Channing (77), Kim Novak (88), Josh Brolin (53), Christina Ricci (41), Michael Ironside (71), Arsenio Hall (65), Maud Adams (76), Natalie Dormer (39), Jennifer Aniston (52), Damian Lewis (50), Thomas Turgoose (29), Sheryl Crow (59), Chloë Grace Moretz (24), Elizabeth Banks (47), Keeley Hawes (45), Laura Dern (54), Robert Wagner (91), Philip Glenister (58), Holly Willoughby (40), Tom Hiddleston (40), Michael B. Jordan (34), Rose Leslie (34), Joe Pesci (78), Ciarán Hinds (68), Mia Farrow (76), Mary Steenburgen (68), Seth Green (47), Nick Nolte (80), and Ethan Phillips (66).
Goodness me, what a week! A points avalanche!!!! Let’s start with Capt. Tom Moore, 50 points to Ceri and Paul C, but an exceptional start for newb Sarah as she had him as her Cert, 150 points!! Onto Christopher Plummer, Sarai had him as her Cert, 159 points and Paul G also gets 59 points. Now Leon Spinks, Laura and Ron had him as their Cert, 183 points each, and 83 points to Paul C. who managed to guess two people in one week, that doesn’t happen very often! Well done all of you. A strong start to the year so far.
Look Who You Could Have Had:
- Dustin Diamond, 44, American actor (Saved by the Bell), small-cell carcinoma.
- Hal Holbrook, 95, American actor (Mark Twain Tonight!, All the President’s Men, Into the Wild).
- Sir Tom Moore, 100, British military officer and charity campaigner, COVID-19.
- Haya Harareet, 89, Israeli actress (Ben-Hur, The Secret Partner, The Interns).
- Millie Hughes-Fulford, 75, American astronaut and molecular biologist.
- Robert A. Altman, 74, American video game executive, co-founder and CEO of ZeniMax Media.
- Christopher Plummer, 91, Canadian actor (The Sound of Music, Beginners, All the Money in the World).
- Leon Spinks, 67, American boxer, WBA, WBC & Olympic heavyweight champion, prostate cancer.
In Other News
Jennifer Lawrence has sustained minor injuries after a glass explosion stunt went wrong on the set of Don’t Look Up. The forthcoming Netflix comedy – which stars Lawrence opposite Leonardo DiCaprio – has been forced to temporarily suspend production following the disruption. Lawrence had been shooting a scene with Timothee Chalamet when the controlled glass explosion sent shards of glass flying, causing minor injuries to the Hunger Games star. While the details of her injuries aren’t entirely clear, but a malfunction resulted in “shards of glass flying.” As a result of the incident, production on Don’t Look Up has been paused as of Friday, though Lawrence is expected to return to the film’s Boston set on Monday. Don’t Look Up stars Lawrence and DiCaprio as two low-level scientists who attempt to warn the world’s population of an impending meteor strike due in six months.
Jazz legend Tony Bennett has revealed that he has been living with Alzheimer’s Disease for the last four years. The singer, who is 94, made the announcement in AARP Magazine, which focuses on issues affecting people over the age of 50. The article conveys how the condition has affected Bennett’s memory and ability to recognise everyday objects. His wife Susan told the magazine that the star is “not always sure where he is or what is happening around him”. However, Bennett has so far been spared many of the worst characteristics of the disease – including the disorientation that can cause patients to wander from home and episodes of terror, rage or depression. Bennett has been a star since 1951, scoring hits with songs like I Left My Heart In San Francisco and The Shadow Of Your Smile. Some of his biggest successes have come in the last decade, including the chart-topping duets album with Lady Gaga, Cheek to Cheek, which won a Grammy in 2015. The singer’s neurologist Gayatra Devi, told us that, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, Bennett’s touring schedule “kept him on his toes and also stimulated his brain in a significant way. However, the decimation of the live music industry has been a real blow from a cognitive perspective, his memory, prior to the pandemic, was so much better. And he’s not alone. So many of my patients are negatively affected by the isolation, the inability to do the things that matter to them,” he said. “For someone like Tony Bennett, the big high he gets from performing was very important.” said Devi. However, Devi stressed that Bennett was still “doing so many things, at 94, that many people without dementia cannot do. He really is the symbol of hope for someone with a cognitive disorder,” he added.
Michael Schumacher’s family are set to release rare footage of the F1 legend in a new documentary. The German F1 legend was involved in a devastating skiing accident in the French Alps in 2013 that has left him in a medically-induced coma. Out of respect and eventual disinterest, the world’s media has given him and his family privacy. Only a small handful of people have been allowed to visit the seven-time World Championship winner. His condition has been kept a close-guarded secret by his family. According to PlanetF1, a new documentary titled ‘Schumacher’ is set to be released that will contain private recordings that the German’s family has provided. The documentary is the work of Award-winning German filmmakers Michael Wech and Hanns-Bruno Kammertons. Sabine Kehm, Schumacher family spokesperson, said: “The film portrays Michael’s impressive career, but also many of the facets of the complex man. Many fans will be desperate to see the new documentary with Schumacher such a popular figure in and out of Formula One.
On This Day
- 1301 – Edward of Caernarfon (later king Edward II of England) becomes the first English Prince of Wales.
- 1497 – In Florence, Italy, supporters of Girolamo Savonarola burn cosmetics, art, and books, in a “Bonfire of the vanities”.
- 1900 – A Chinese immigrant in San Francisco falls ill to bubonic plague in the first plague epidemic in the continental United States.
- 1940 – The second full-length animated Walt Disney film, Pinocchio, premieres.
- 1984 – Astronauts Bruce McCandless II and Robert L. Stewart make the first untethered space walk using the Manned Manoeuvring Unit.
- 1991 – The Troubles: The Provisional IRA launched a mortar attack on 10 Downing Street in London, thirty years later, bet they’re planning some troubles again!
- 1992 – The Maastricht Treaty is signed, leading to the creation of the European Union, Farage shits himself.
- 2013 – The U.S. state of Mississippi officially certifies the Thirteenth Amendment, becoming the last state to approve the abolition of slavery.
- 1823 – Ann Radcliffe, English author (b. 1764).
- 1979 – Josef Mengele, German SS officer and physician (b. 1911)
- 2017 – Richard Hatch, American actor (b. 1945).
- 2019 – Albert Finney, English actor (b. 1936)
The Early Days of Plymouth, New England
Graunger became one of the first people hanged in the Plymouth Colony (the first hanged in Plymouth or in any of the colonies of New England being John Billington) and the first known juvenile to be sentenced to death and executed in the territory of today’s United States. Graunger, at the age of 16 or 17, was convicted of “buggery with a mare, a cow, two goats, five divers sheepe, two calves, and a turkey”, according to court records of 7th September 1642.
Basically, someone walked in on Granger, a teenage servant, while he was engaged in “lewd practice towards the mare,” and the young man eventually confessed to having sex with the horse regularly, along with several other farm animals.
Then, as now, bestiality was a serious crime. But back in 1642, the punishment was strange by modern standards: The authorities worked to determine which animals Granger had had sex with, following the laws set down in Leviticus 20:15 (“And if a man shall lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast”), then killed them in front of him before executing Granger himself by “hanging until he was dead”. They then buried the animals, as opposed to eating them, because their bodies had been defiled.
The killing and burying of the animals would have been a hardship for the colonists and was therefore another indicator of how seriously this crime was viewed: For an agricultural society this slaughter of all the farm animals was a substantial economic sacrifice.
Granger’s acts were extreme, but there are other examples from that period of the Pilgrims stuffing more than just turkeys. Plymouth court records from 1642 tell the story of Edward Michell, who was accused of “lewd and sodomitical practices tending to sodomy with Edward Preston, and other lewd carriages with Lydia Hatch,” who was also punished for sharing a bed with her brother. All this came to light because Preston apparently propositioned a man named John Keene, who turned him down and told the authorities. Keene was then ordered to watch while the two Edwards were whipped. Another, tamer, example of sexual wrongdoing was the case of John Casley and his fiancee, Alis, who were discovered to have had sex before their marriage; John was whipped while Alis was forced to look on from the stocks.
The first woman hanged on the gallows in Plymouth Colony was 32-year-old Alice Bishop in 1648 for the murder of her young daughter; an apparently motiveless crime which must have shocked her fellow settlers. Almost nothing is known about Alice’s early life, she was marry twice and had three daughters: Abigail, Martha and Damaris. By 1648, Alice was living with her second husband, the Plymouth newcomer Richard Bishop, who was Damaris’s father. The family seems to have been unexceptional, just another household trying to eke out a living in a harsh and unforgiving environment. Somewhere along the line, something went very wrong.
On July 22nd, 1648, while Richard Bishop was away from home, family friend Rachel Ramsden dropped by the Bishops’ residence and spent some time with Alice. Alice’s four-year-old middle child, Martha Clark, was asleep in bed in the loft, which was accessible by ladder. (Where the other two children were has not been recorded.) At some point, Alice gave Rachel a kettle and asked her to go fetch some buttermilk from a neighbour’s house. When Rachel returned, she noticed blood on the floor beneath the ladder. Alice was “sad and dumpish,” and when Rachel asked her what was going on, she wordlessly pointed up at the loft. Rachel climbed up to have a look: there was blood everywhere; Martha’s mattress was drenched in it.
Rachel fled the house in a panic, found her parents and told them she thought Alice had murdered her daughter. Her father rushed to find the colonial governor. A posse of twelve armed men assembled and went to the Bishop house. By the time the men arrived, Alice was in hysterics. They found Martha’s body lying on her left side, “with her throat cut with divers gashes crose wayes, the wind pipe cut and stuke into the throat downward, and the bloody knife lying by the side.” Nothing could be done for her.
Alice freely admitted she had murdered her daughter and said she was sorry for it, but she claimed she had no recollection of the crime. When they asked her why she’d done it, she had no answer for them. She was tried, found guilty and sentenced to be hanged by the neck until she was dead. Today this crime would probably be attributed to Post Partum depression.
Last Week’s Birthdays
James Spader (61), Tina Majorino (36), Ashton Kutcher (43), Deborah Ann Woll (36), Chris Rock (56), Eddie Izzard (59), Garth Brooks (59), Emo Philips (65), Alice Eve (39), Mike Farrell (81), Kevin Whately (70), Axl Rose (59), Michael Sheen (52), Jennifer Jason Leigh (59), Christopher Guest (73), Charlotte Rampling (75), Tony Jaa (45), Gabrielle Anwar (51), Natalie Imbruglia (46), Alice Cooper (73), Jim Jefferies (44), Isla Fisher (45), Bridget Regan (39), Warwick Davis (51), Morgan Fairchild (71), Gemma Arterton (35), Brent Spiner (72), David Jason (81), Shakira (44), Sherilyn Fenn (56), Michael C. Hall (50), Harry Styles (27), and Lisa Marie Presley (53).