Morbid Fact Du Jour for December 27, 2015

Today’s Deeply Betrayed Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In May, 1925, a twenty-one-year-old White Plains, New York woman had been rushed to the hospital after eating a fig from a box that her grandmother had sent her as a gift. The sick girl had been carried into treatment still clutching the box of fruit.

Doctors recognized signs of an acute poisoning – the skin of her mouth was corroded, and she was vomiting blood. The hospital sent the figs directly to the medical examiner’s office. The next day New York toxicologist Alexander Gettler reported that he’d found a silvery-white powder rubbed into the fruit. The figs were loaded with mercury bichloride.

Detectives discovered that the grandmother had quarreled with the young woman’s parents over money. The daughter had supported her parents and refused to visit her grandmother again; her six-year-old brother had continued to visit. The older woman evidently regarded her granddaughter’s behavior as a deep betrayal. She had bought the figs, laced a basketful with mercury bichloride, and given it to the boy, telling him it was a gift for his sister and “not to eat any himself.”

When detectives came to arrest the grandmother, she’d been waiting for them. “All right” was all she said, as she gathered up her handbag and hat. She was lucky, they told her – the girl would recover, and the charge would be only attempted murder. She didn’t answer them.

Culled from: The Poisoner’s Handbook


Garretdom: Frothing For No Reason Edition

December 12, 1886



A Man and Boy who Bark and Bite Without Any Apparent Cause.

CHICAGO, Dec. 12.–About two weeks ago Harry Gibson, a hotel bell-boy, was taken to the insane department of the county jail suffering from a malady which seemed at times to resemble hydrophobia. It cannot be ascertained that young Gibson was ever bitten by a dog, either rabid or otherwise, yet he snapped his teeth and growled at people, frothed at the mouth, and in every way gave evidence of suffering from rabies. It was at first supposed that his malady was brought on from a serious injury he received from falling and striking his head on an iron staircase. A new and mysterious phase of the case has developed, and is worrying the physicians. Before Gibson’s removal to the jail he was cared for at the hotel, and a porter named John Heilland was detailed to watch him. He would argue with the attendant in a most rational manner, saying there was no necessity for his being watched, but the moment the attendant turned his back Gibson would leap upon him and endeavor to bite him.

After Gibson’s removal Heilland was relieved from the duty of caring for the patient. He went to his room, and spent the next forenoon in sleep. When he went to work he complained to his fellow-porters of feeling ill, but thought nothing serious of it. The day following, however, he was attacked with the same symptoms manifested by young Gibson, and became violently mad and unmanageable. He frothed at the mouth and acted like a person having hydrophobia, though at times he was perfectly rational. He declares he was not bitten by Gibson, and had not been bitten by a dog. The attacks recur at regular intervals each day. The cases will be thoroughly investigated.

From the Collection of The Comtesse DeSpair
The 1886 Morbid Scrapbook

I tried finding a follow-up article about this case but couldn’t.  If anyone out there can track this one down to find out that they probably both died of rabies, I will send you a special morbid gift.

One comment

  1. Oops, posted this under the wrong MFDJ. I was going to say, before i wasn’t rudely interrupted, that this was back in the days when an adult could tell a child not to do something and be reasonably confident he wouldn’t do it. Today, Granny would run a much higher risk of bumping off her favorite grandson.

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