Category Archives: Mirth

Morbid Fact Du Jour For February 9, 2017

Today’s Bankrobbing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Today we begin a two-part series on the Suburban Bonnie and Clyde – bankrobbers from 1990’s Chicagoland.

In 1991 the the Chicago banking community was under siege. An unprecedented ninety-two stickups had occurred in the six-county metro area during the preceding twelve months, setting new standards, while the FBI and various suburban task forces doggedly pressed on. 

Married couple Jeffrey and Jill Erickson were responsible for at least eight of these daring daylight bank heists beginning in January 1990 and continuing right up until the fateful moment on December 16, 1991, when Jeffrey was nabbed by FBI agents.

Erickson was seated in a stolen Mazda in a shopping plaza where Wise Road and Irving Park intersect at the south end of Schaumburg, that vast, unchecked suburban “mall sprawl” northwest of O’Hare Airport. The Erickson’s two-year crime spree, which would end in murder and suicide, brought to mind similar exploits of the famous southwestern “Dustbowl” desperadoes, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.

Jeff Erickson, an “all-American” boy from Morton Grove, Illinois, was an ex-marine who had served briefly as an auxiliary police officer in suburban Rosemont and Hoffman Estates from 1985 until 1987. Erickson was a uniform-and-gun nut, obsessed with motorcycles and firepower, but his departmental evaluations on his last job were substandard, forcing his resignation.

One shudders to think just how many other psychopaths with gun fetishes manage to slip through the testing safeguards and wind up out on the street in uniform. [I think we’re beginning to know! – DeSpair]

And yet, while it seemed completely out of character for this type of individual to open a used book store and capably represent himself before a cerebral clientele of bibliophiles and Book-of-the-Month aficionados, Erickson was warmly regarded by his customers as well versed in the classics and possessing a superior mind.

Erickson closed his store on Mondays – setting aside that one day of the week to rob banks. He disguised himself with a phony beard, drove stolen Japanese imports, carried an assault rifle into the poorly guarded suburban banks, and threatened to kill everyone in sight who failed to cooperate. His adoring wife, Jill, whom he affectionately referred to as “Gorgeous,” drove the backup getaway car.

The Suburban Bonnie and Clyde

The two of them were believed to have forged a “death pact.” They would not be taken alive to face the sting of incarceration, and they had vowed to end their own lives if they were cornered by police or placed in a tight situation where escape was not possible.

Dubbed the “suburban Bonnie and Clyde” by reporters, the thrill-seeking Ericksons undoubtedly reveled in all of the publicity and media attention until the long arm of the law literally reached out and grabbed Jeffery by the collar, just before he could carry out his next bank job. FBI and suburban law enforcement had been tracking the couple’s movements for weeks. A task force had been formed, and they had kept Erickson’s Hanover Park apartment under twenty-four-hour surveillance.

Observing the arrest of her husband while seated behind the wheel of a battered Ford Econoline van, Jill Erickson whirled the vehicle around, deciding to make a run for it. She led the cops on a wild ten-mile car chase through the Northwest and Western suburbs, firing over her shoulder as she plowed through dense traffic with the Feds and as many as forty patrol cars in hot pursuit. The Chase ended at Bear Flag Drive, a residential subdivision in Hanover Park.

Her tire shot out, and struck by police gunfire, Jill realized the hopelessness of her situation. Surrender was not an option. She turned the weapon on herself. It was lights out for the “Yuppie Bonnie Parker.” She died at Humana Hospital that night.

[To Be Continued]

Culled from: Return Again to the Scene of the Crime


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

What a fantastic idea!

And, as Eleanor points out, with only a little modification…  hmmmm… 

Culled from the February 1932 issue of Popular Science.

Morbid Fact Du Jour For January 31, 2017

Today’s Bacteria-Laden Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A portrait of a Civil War field hospital in 1863, written by a Union colonel wounded at Port Hudson:

I never wish to see another such time as the 27th of May. The surgeons used a large Cotton Press for the butchering room & when I was carried into the building and looked about I could not help comparing the surgeons to fiends. It was dark & the building lighted partially with candles: all around on the ground lay the wounded men; some of them were shrieking, some cursing & swearing & some praying; in the middle of the room was some 10 or 12 tables just large enough to lay a man on; these were used as dissecting tables & they were covered with blood; near & around the tables stood the surgeons with blood all over them & by the side of the tables was a heap of feet, legs & arms. On one of these tables I was laid & being known as a Col. the Chief Surgeon of the Department was called (Sanger) and he felt of my mouth and then wanted to give me cloriform: this I refused to take & he took a pair of scissors & cut out the pieces of bone in my mouth: then gave me a drink of whiskey & had me laid away.

Amputation being performed in a hospital tent, Gettysburg, July 1863.

In 1918, after a half-century of medical advances, one federal surgeon looked back on the war:

We operated in old blood-stained and often pus-stained coats, the veterans of a hundred fights. … We used undisinfected instruments from undisinfected plush-lined cases, and still worse, used marine sponges which had been used in prior pus cases and had been only washed in tap water. If a sponge or an instrument fell on the floor it was washed and squeezed in a basin of tap water and used as if it were clean. Our silk to tie blood vessels was undisinfected. … The silk with which we sewed up all wounds was undisinfected. If there was any difficulty in threading the needle we moistened it with … bacteria-laden saliva, and rolled it between bacteria-infected fingers. We dressed the wounds with clean but undisinfected sheets, shirts, tablecloths, or other old soft linen rescued from the family ragbag. We had no sterilized gauze dressing, no gauze sponges. … We knew nothing about antiseptics and therefore used none.

In The Life of Billy Yank, historian Bell I. Wiley writes, “Little wonder that gangrene, tetanus and other complication were so frequent and that slight wounds often proved mortal.”

Culled from: Futility Closet
Generously submitted by: Marco


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Courtesy of Anna.

Morbid Fact Du Jour for January 17, 2017

Today’s Infested Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

A woman died after being mistaken for a car thief and tied to a tree infested with poisonous ants.

The 52-year-old was rescued by police but died in hospital from breathing problems caused by severe throat swelling after her windpipe was bitten by the insects.

The victim had gone to help her son who had been bound to the tree by angry vigilantes who accused them of trying to steal a car.

Her daughter also received the same punishment but she and her older brother survived and are now recovering from their injuries.

Local reports said the trio were also beaten and burned.

The shocking incident happened on New Year’s Eve (2016) in Caranavi in Bolivia, around 100 miles north east of the capital La Paz.

A radio station published a picture of two of the three people blindfolded and bound to the tree while villagers, including a woman with a child in her arms and a schoolboy kneeling on the ground, looked on from a few feet away.

Worst. Nightmare.

Authorities said preliminary investigations had shown the dead woman and her children, ages 22 and 28, had traveled to the area from La Paz to recover a debt.

The tree they were tied to was a Palo Santo, a mystical tree growing on the coast of South America which is the favorite haunt of colonies of Brazilian fire ants known for their extremely painful bites.

Police chief Gunter Agudo said: “We managed to rescue all three people but one of them, the 52-year-old woman, was in a bad way and had to be taken to hospital.

“She died at 3:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

“Initially the investigation was opened as a probe into an attempted car theft, but now it has been changed to a murder and serious assault investigation.”

Only one person has been arrested so far on suspicion of inciting locals to commit their shocking act, although the authorities have confirmed others took part.

The unnamed suspect was held on January 1 and has been remanded in prison following a court appearance.

Roxana Bustillos, lawyer for the family targeted by the vigilantes, said: “It’s probable that the ants bit the victim’s windpipe, which caused an inflammation and meant she wasn’t able to breathe.”

One local described the trio as criminals who had gone to the area to “make mischief” and said they had picked on poor people who had made huge sacrifices to obtain their own vehicle. But authorities insisted the victims had not done anything wrong.

Roberhtmar Aramayo, who described himself as a nephew of the dead woman, said on the Facebook page of a local radio station: “Damned community Indians of Caranavi. My family is suffering the loss of my beloved aunt.

“I hope the courts clarify what’s happened because they’ve left my cousins orphans.”

Culled from: The Sun
Generously Submitted by: Kelly K.


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

I stumbled across this on the interwebz.  My sincerest apologies to the easily-offended!

Morbid Fact Du Jour for January 16, 2017

Today’s Young Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

James Arcene (ca. 1862 – June 18, 1885) was the youngest person sentenced to death, who was subsequently executed for the crime, in the United States. Arcene, a Cherokee, was hanged by the U.S. federal government in Fort Smith, Arkansas for his role in a robbery and murder committed thirteen years earlier, when he was 10 years old.

He and a Cherokee man named William Parchmeal noticed William Feigel, a Swedish national, making a purchase in a store. They followed him when he left, heading for Fort Gibson, and caught up with him about two miles outside of the fort. With robbery as a motive, they shot Fiegel six times before crushing his skull with a rock. Arcene and Parchmeal then divested Fiegel’s corpse of its boots and money, totaling only 25 cents ($5.00 today).

Arcene was arrested and tried for the robbery and murder of his victim, but escaped and eluded capture until he was apprehended and executed at the age of 23. He and Parchmeal were ultimately brought to justice by Deputy Marshal Andrews, after the case had lain cold for more than ten years. “Hanging Judge” Isaac Parker presided over the executions, which were held at Fort Smith.

It is difficult to verify James Arcene’s age with complete certainty because there are few surviving census records for Indian Territory in the 1870s and 1880s. Primary documents confirm that, after he was captured, James Arcene claimed to have been a child in 1872 when the crime was committed. He did not revise that statement when it became clear that that status would not help him in sentencing.

Arcene’s case is frequently brought up in discussions of the death penalty for children, and to a lesser degree in discussions of the unfair treatment Native Americans received from the United States government.

Culled from: Wikipedia


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Speaking of kids, if you must let them play with guns, let them play with Iver Johnson Revolvers!  (Thanks to Eleanor for the pic.)

Morbid Fact Du Jour For December 30, 2016

Today’s Gliding Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

When, in 1895, the Wright Brothers read of the gliding experiments being conducted by Otto Lilienthal, Germany’s first and foremost contributor to the conquest of the air, they sought every piece of information they could learn about him. Between 1891 and 1896 Lilienthal had made over 2,000 glides – some of them several hundred feet – down a large hill he had constructed near Berlin. His early gliders were monoplanes with fixed tails. The pilot’s head and shoulders were above the cambered wings, his hips and legs dangled below. What limited directional control Lilienthal achieved he managed by shifting his hips and weight from side to side or back and forth. Photographs and published reports of Lilienthal’s experiments fascinated the Wrights. He had effectively demonstrated that air could support a man in winged flight.

Otto Lilienthal with one of his gliders

Otto in flight.

Ever since 1891 Lilienthal had been designing and constructing gliders with the hope that when a suitable means of propulsion was developed, it could be added to his wings. In 1896 he had built a small compressed carbonic acid gas motor. Unfortunately, before Lilienthal had an opportunity to test it, he was killed in one of his standard gliders when a sudden gust of wind forced the glider upward into a stall. The craft crashed to earth and broke the German aviation pioneer’s back. He died the next day.

Sad Remains

Culled from: The National Air and Space Museum


Morbid Mirth Du Jour

Generously submitted by Jessie.

Morbid Fact Du Jour For October 10, 2016

Today’s Imitative Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In September of 1917, a Mr. and Mrs. Barnett of London, Kentucky were working in their garden. They left their three-month-old son Henry in his cradle in the hall. Presently, little Henry began to fuss, and his twenty-month-old sister tried to comfort him. The little girl had often seen Henry being fed with a bottle, so, imitating her parents, she found a bottle and gave it to her baby brother.

Unfortunately, the bottle she found did not contain milk. It was full of carbolic acid, which burned Henry’s throat and mouth badly and paralyzed his tongue. A doctor was summoned quickly, but nothing could be done and Henry Barnett died the next day.

Culled From:
Submitted by: Aimee

What must it be like to grow up and know that actions taken when you were not much more than a baby yourself resulted in the death of your baby brother? – Aimee

Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Thanks to Magnoire for sharing this truly frightening video with us!

Morbid Fact Du Jour For September 19, 2016

Today’s Automated Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

One of the biggest leaps forward in jet airliner technology came with the arrival of the Airbus A320.  This plane was introduced by the French-German-British-Spanish Airbus consortium in 1988 in an ultimately successful attempt to compete with Boeing, which had been the dominant force in commercial aircraft for the previous 35 years. To reduce the cost of the aircraft, the fuel and the numbers of crew required to fly it, Airbus went much further in automating the flying process than ever before, introducing what is known as a ‘flight management system’. In essence, this was the world’s first fully-automated plane.

‘This is a kind of machine partner,’ said Professor David Woods, author of Behind Human Error, ‘which rides in the cockpit with the flight crew and manages the flight path of the aircraft. It’s what the pilot talks to, giving instructions through a keyboard. This system is on all modern airplanes.’

The Airbus was more thorough in its approach than any aircraft before and, as a result, attracted the majority of the unfavorable attention accorded to modern flight systems, notably the ill-named ‘fly-by-wire’ concept in which the pilot has no direct physical contact with the operating systems.

In the first few years after the A320 was launched in 1988, it was involved in at least five accidents, as well as numerous other ‘incidents’ in which man and computerized machine clashed. In several of these, the Airbus unaccountably reared up during the approach to landing and then stalled. The trouble was that, although the computer was doing what it was supposed to, the pilot was either not sufficiently trained or aware enough to work out what that was.

The earliest incident – on June 26, 1988, at Habsheim in eastern France – came shortly after the first of the aircraft had been delivered, and sent shockwaves through the aviation world. Air France 296 was a demo plane packed with 136 crew and passengers – the latter being the winners of a competition organized by a local newspaper. They were supposed to be making a one-hour flight on the evolutionary new airliner, taking in Mont Blanc and two passes over Habsheim air show. The first of these flyovers was to be at low speed, with the landing gear down, at just 100 ft.

A huge crowd had gathered to watch as the A320 made its approach; but their appreciative shouts changed to gasps of horror as the jet labored over the runway towards the forest surrounding the airport. To the onlookers’ disbelief, the Airbus did not climb but simply flew into the trees. It disappeared from view, and second later there was an enormous explosion and fireball. A number of amateur videos of the whole thing were shot and can be seen on YouTube, and perhaps the most astonishing thing, from that footage, is that only three people were killed. A boy was impaled through his chest on wreckage, and a young girl died from smoke inhalation, along with a woman who was trying to free the child from her seat.

Sacre merde!

Zut alors!

Unfortunately, the crash investigation was marred by a series of rows involving the investigators, the French authorities and the pilot, Michel Asseline, on such points as the height of the trees into which the plane crashed, the possibility of altimeter failure, the theft of some television film of the accident, the engines’ alleged poor restart rate at low altitude, and the fact that the DVR and DFDR went off four seconds before impact. The crash was blamed on cockpit confusion over altitude, but outside observers have said that the on-board computer believed the aircraft to be landing, and thus was in landing mode. Consequently, it took too much time for the engines to throttle up to avert the crash. The A320’s on-board computers were later programmed to maintain more power on the final approach.

Culled from: Black Box: Inside the World’s Worst Plane Crashes

Wanna hear French people watch a plane crash? Oh ya?  Oh non! Oh non! Oh non! Oh non! Oh non!

Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

When people encourage me to exercise, I shall just remind them of this one bullet-proof fact.

Thank you to Magnoire for the funny!

Morbid Fact Du Jour for July 6, 2016

Today’s Incapacitated Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

United Airlines Flight 624, a Douglas DC-6 airliner, registration NC37506, was a scheduled passenger flight that originated in San Diego, California with stops in Los Angeles and Chicago en route to LaGuardia Airport in New York City. The four-engine propeller-driven airplane crashed at 1:41 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on June 17, 1948 outside of Aristes, Pennsylvania, killing all 4 crew members and 39 passengers on board.

The Douglas DC-6 fleet had been grounded by Civil Aviation authorities for four months as a result of the fatal crash of United Airlines Flight 608 on October 24, 1947. It was determined that the crash had been caused by a design flaw that allowed vented fuel to be drawn into the heater air intake scoop that caused a fire in the cargo compartment. As a result, changes were made and a fire extinguisher system was installed on all DC-6 aircraft.

Flight 624 from San Diego had just completed a routine initial descent as part of its approach into the New York area, when the forward cargo hold fire indicator light illuminated, leading the flight crew to believe there was a fire in that cargo hold. Although this later turned out to be a false alarm, the crew decided to discharge CO2 bottles into the forward cargo hold, to try to extinguish the possible fire.

While proper operating procedure called for opening the cabin pressure relief valves prior to discharging the CO2 bottles, to allow for venting of the CO2 gas buildup in the cabin and cockpit, there was no evidence the crew opened the relief valves. Consequently, the released CO2 gas seeped back into the cockpit from the front cargo hold and apparently partially incapacitated the flight crew. The crew then put the aircraft into an emergency descent, and as it descended lower it hit a high voltage power line, bursting into flames, then smashing through the trees of a wooden hillside.

Ed Darlington of radio station WCNR at nearby Bloomsburg said “there was no sign of life and apparently everyone was killed.” The scene of the wreck was in a sparsely wooded area about five miles from Mt. Carmel, a small town 135 miles from Philadelphia where delegates are gathering for the Republican National Convention. News of the crash brought excited whispering from the delegates. No one knew for certain whether any high Republican officials were on the plane.  [Sadly, they were not. – DeSpair]

Ira F. Roadarmel of Mt. Carmel, one of the first persons on the scene, said “everything was scattered. The largest piece of the plane left was an engine. The rest of the plane was in small parts — so small they could be carried.”

George Minnich, an employee of Midvalley Colliery No. 2, which the plane missed by only 100 yards in its descent, said that he saw the plane bank. “Suddenly there was a horrible crash,” he said. “All you could see was a mass of flames. It sounded as though the end of the world was coming.”

The aftermath of doomed flight 624.

Culled from: Wikipedia


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Thanks to Nina for this one!

Morbid Fact Du Jour For May 5, 2016

Today’s Thuggish Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The word “thug” referring to a ruffian or hoodlum is derived from the name of one of the worst gangs of murdering thieves the world has ever known: the Indian hoodlum band known as the Thuggees. The English term originally came from the Hindustani word thag meaning “cheat” or “rascal”. But the Thuggees were much worse than mere cheats and rascals. Through the course of their existence, dating back to the 1550s, the Thuggees were credited with murdering more than 2,000,000 people, mostly wealthy travelers. The killer secret society plagued India for more than 350 years. The Thuggees traveled in gangs, sometimes disguised as poor beggars or religious mendicants. Sometimes they wore the garb of rich merchants to get closer to unsuspecting victims.

Thugs in Action

One of their chief principles was never to spill blood, so they always strangled their victims. Each member was required to kill at least once a year in order to maintain membership in the cult. But they killed in the name of religion. The deaths were conceived of as human sacrifices to Kali, the bloodthirsty Hindustani goddess of destruction.

The most lethal practitioner of the cult of Thuggee was the thug Buhram. At his trial it was established that he had murdered 931 persons between 1790 and 1840. All had been strangled with his “ruhmal” or waistcloth. Buhram was executed in 1840. Appropriately enough, he was hanged until he strangled.

It came to pass that the Thuggees began to kill using pickaxes and knives. According to legend, the Thuggees believed that Kali devoured the bodies of their victims. The story goes that once a member of the society hid behind a tree in order to spy on the goddess. The angry goddess punished the Thuggees by making them bury their victims from then on. Their pickaxes became murder weapons as well.

Both Muslims and Hindus made up the Thuggee sect. The ruling British government tried very hard to stop the Thuggee religion and its practices. Between 1829 and 1848 the British suppressed the Thuggees by means of mass arrests and speedy executions. In 1882 the British government deemed the problem solved with the hanging death of the last known Thuggee.

Thug Life, 19th Century Style

Culled from: The Big Book of Thugs


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!

Thanks to Katchaya for this one.

Morbid Fact Du Jour For March 31, 2016

The lull in facts this week has been regrettably unavoidable as this has been a feverish week of activity for The Comtesse. She is heading overseas tomorrow and will be away until April 20th.  She will try to keep the facts coming regularly while she’s away but you know how life can sometimes interfere with our best intentions. In the event her internet access is limited, please stay morbid until her return!

Today’s Severe Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Monty Atwater was a veteran of the 10th Mountain Division which utilized explosives to create strategic avalanches during World War II.  After the war he was immediately hired to research and control avalanches at Alta, a ski resort in the middle of one of the most notoriously dangerous mountain chains in North America, Utah’s Wasatch, just east of Salt Lake City.  Needless to say, working with avalanches is dangerous business, and Atwater did not manage to retire unscathed.

In the early 1950’s, during research at Berthoud Pass in Colorado with Dick Stillman, another avalanche hunter, the two began jumping on a slab to try to cut it loose with their skis. Suddenly, the heard a “Crrrrump!” and the slab broke. Stillman made it the safety of the trees, but Atwater got caught. Tumbled end over end, he was dragged over a sharp rock, got a sharp knock on the head, and ended up wrapped around a tree; he remembers only losing his temper and hitting the avalanche with his fists on the way down. The air temperature was ten below zero, and since Atwater was buried in snow, he figured that it must have been the cold that kept his legs from working. They looked straight, and he could wiggle his toes, she he wasn’t paralyzed. It was only later that he realized that one third of the way from his hip to his knee, his leg had been 70 percent severed, probably as he was dragged over the rock. Once he had come to rest, the snow had acted as both a good coagulant and an anesthetic; later, Atwater was told by his doctor that there was no other place on the human body where he could have sustained a cut that big and lived to tell about it.

The Full Monty

Culled from: The White Death: Tragedy and Heroism in an Avalanche Zone


Morbid Mirth Du Jour!