Saturday 3 April 2010


As it is Easter holiday, I thought you might prefer something more lighthearted than the politics that dominates our lives at the moment and fortunately a mate sent me an email with this weird true story from Associated Press (reported by Kurt Westervelt) from the land of weird stories, America:

At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic Science, AAFS President Dr. Don Harper Mills astounded his audience with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the story:

On March 23, 1994 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus, and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound to the head. Mr. Opus had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide. He left a note to the effect indicating his despondency. As he fell past the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast passing through a window, which killed him instantly.

Neither the shooter nor the deceased was aware that a safety net had been installed just below the eighth floor level to protect some building workers, and that Ronald Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide the way he had planned.

"Ordinarily," Dr Mills continued, "Someone who sets out to commit suicide and ultimately succeeds,
even though the mechanism might not be what he intended, is still defined as committing suicide."

That Mr. Opus was shot on the way to certain death, but probably would not have been successful because of the safety net, caused the medical examiner to feel that he had a homicide on his hands.

The room on the ninth floor, where the shotgun blast emanated, was occupied by an elderly man and his wife.

They were arguing vigorously, and he was threatening her with a shotgun!

The man was so upset that when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife, and the pellets went through the window, striking Mr. Opus.

When one intends to kill subject "A" but kills subject "B" in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject "B." When confronted with the murder charge, the old man and his wife were both adamant, and both said that they thought the shotgun was not loaded.

The old man said it was a long-standing habit to threaten his wife with the unloaded shotgun. He had no intention to murder her. Therefore the killing of Mr. Opus appeared to be an accident; that is, assuming the gun had been accidentally loaded.

The continuing investigation turned up a witness who saw the old couple's son loading the shotgun about six weeks prior to the fatal accident. It transpired that the old lady had cut off her son's financial support and the son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that his father would shoot his mother.. Since the loader of the gun was aware of this, he was guilty of the murder even though he didn't actually pull the trigger. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus.

Now for the twist... Further investigation revealed that the son was, in fact, Ronald Opus. He had become increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to engineer his mother's murder.

This led him to jump off the ten-story building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth story window.

The son, Ronald Opus, had actually murdered himself. So the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide. As "Letter From America" Danny is forever saying to me....Only in America!



  1. Same thing happened to a bloke down the road

  2. It's where you live Niko... you really need to get out of that place!!!

  3. Wow.....that is one amazing story. I might even be inclined to further specify it as "Only in California." That's weird even for some parts of America. :-)

    And it seems to be well documented by no less than the Asssociated Press. But I'm always a bit suspicious of such stories showing up around April 1. I recall stories of the formidable BBC reporting on the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland, and the decision to convert Big Ben to a digital display.

    Loved it Tris!!!

  4. Ha ah... Oh Danny, I never thought about that... I suppose I could have Googled the guy to find out if he existed.... but hey, it's a good story anyway. And it happens round Niko's way!

    California, yep, I guess, or maybe Alaska, they have some pretty batty nut jobs up there... and then, of course, these's Texas!!! 'Nuff said!

  5. PS... Spaghetti growing in Switzerland.... sheesh, who'd believe that? We all know that it only grows in Italy and that all Switzerland can grow is chocolate cockoo clocks!!??!!

  6. Good story indeed. And yes, Texas and Alaska would be good choices too, although sister Sarah has left Alaska far behind as she pursues celebrity in the lower 48. I suppose that her leaving increased the average IQ of Alaskans considerably, and for that matter reduced the total number of guns in the state. The wildlife must have been considerably relieved when she left.

  7. PS:

    How COULD I have been so gullible about those Swiss spaghetti trees?........LOL.

  8. LOL Danny... doubled it I would think.... and no more machining mouses from helicopters. Lord, how I loathe that woman.

  9. erm...and as for the spaghetti trees...erm Duh... you don't have connections with Alaska do you?

  10. eeek mouses.... I meant mooses....

  11. I knew what you meant Tris. Even Ms. Palin would have trouble drawing a bead on a mouse from a helicopter....LOL.

  12. LOL Danny: serves me right for being such a smart arse about spaghetti trees.... huh?

  13. Ahem:

  14. ooooops Anon. I really should research a bit more, shouldn't I?

    I'm just too gullible.

    Thanks for doing it for me (There's no pay on Minguin's Republic. You do it for love. OK?)

    Still, it was a good story, wasn't it?