In March, 2014, in celebration of the 100th page on www.kerriansnotebook.com, I published “100 Ways to Die an Unnatural Death.” It quickly became the most widely read post on the site, and stayed at the top for the rest of the year. Professional writers used the list as a reference and fans of the crime/mystery genre searched the list for new (to them) odd ways that people die. Check out the list here.
There were so many responses and suggestions that by June, 2014, we had enough ideas to publish “50 More Ways to Die an Unnatural Death.” That post finished in the Top Ten for most popular posts of the year. Read that list here.
This is the 150th post for Kerrian’s Notebook, and 150 posts is worthy of recognition in keeping with what the Kerrian fans have come to look for.
You might ask, “Are there really more than 150 ways to die an unnatural death?” Oh, yes, indeed.
Thanks to contributions from readers all over the globe, we have 30 additions to the list. All of these scenarios could happen to somebody, somewhere, sad to say. Some are fictional setups based on actual events, some cases were plain bad luck, some were as a result of Mother Nature’s fury, some as a result of deadly intent. Whatever the reason? Dead is dead.
Shovels, pitchforks, and rugs at the ready, please. 😉
151. House collapses during demolition with person inside
152. Person swept away in a flood
153. Water intoxication – you really can drink too much water – from Lori Ryan (www.loriryanromance.com)
154. Drowning – Poet kissed reflection of moon in water before falling overboard.
155. Death by crushed Tylenol in a mincemeat pie – from Ruth McCarty (www.ruthmccarty.com)
156. Death by shooting in a court case – lawyer maintained that a shooting victim could have shot himself while drawing his own gun, demonstrated same, and killed himself. He won the case.
157. Death from starvation – while wife was hospitalized, husband refused to eat anything that wasn’t prepared by her.
158. Death by Segway – owner of the company lost control of his Segway and went off a cliff.
159. Trip over your own beard
160. Choke on dog food – from Jessica Pettengill Messinger
161. Inhaled manure fumes – father & son in Iowa
162. Choked on scarf – caught in dirt bike chain
163. Choked on scarf – caught on the wheel of car in which she (Isadora Duncan) was a passenger
164. Fall off balcony – second floor outside balcony under renovation, floor not finished. Person walks out in the middle of night, forgetting there is no floor, and falls to death between the headers. Credit to Rob & Bobbi Mumm who thought it was a great setup for a murder mystery. Really, both of them are alive and well. 😉
165. Fall off balcony – while fending off wild monkeys (list25.com)
166. Death by carrot juice overdose – 10 gallons in 10 days
167. Collision of car and deer. Both driver and deer die.
168. Elephant steps on vehicle and occupant is crushed
169. Trampled by horse during polo match
170. Kicked in the head by a cow
171. Killed by African lion
172. Attacked and killed by own dog
173. Killed by a hippo
174. Dying of laughter after watching donkey eat figs (list25.com)
175. Killed by a robot arm in a factory (list25.com)
176. Crushed by falling whale
177. Death by soup injection
178. Death by too much bungee cord in a bungee jump
179. Stabbed with a screwdriver – Phillips head, to be specific
180. Overdose of aerosol deodorant – sprayed all over body twice a day
There you have it!
Be careful out there and apparently, be especially careful when you are close to hippos! They kill about 200 people every year! Hmmm…getting an idea for a story…
*Photos by Patti Phillips
Last week’s article about what Crime Scene Techs really do can be read here.
Warning: parts of this article are extremely descriptive about the work of a CSI at a murder scene.
A Crime Scene Investigator (also known as an Evidence Recovery Technician) is a forensic specialist. A well-trained, experienced CSI tech has an organized plan of action when processing a crime scene. Most go through extensive training, if not in the classroom, then in the field while working with seasoned law enforcement officers, before being allowed to work solo. They study how to recognize evidence, how to document the process and the proper way to prioritize, recover, handle, and package that evidence at the crime scene.
Some of the TV shows and movies touch on the challenges in the job of a CSI, but generally the scriptwriters try not to gross out the viewing audience.
Occasionally, the collection of the evidence requires a strong stomach. If the CSI works a homicide or accidental death scene, they will likely be dealing with strong odors. Although air/water temperature may affect the rate of decomposition, a dead body begins to stink fairly quickly. Think rotting meat. CSIs have various ways of dealing with the odors. Some apply Vicks under their noses, some use medical masks, but some just get used to it.
In case you were wondering: A former CSI told me that the Tyvek suits we see at crime scenes during British TV shows, work very well to keep unwanted fibers and DNA samples away from the scene, but do not block the odors at all.
Sometimes, bodies are dumped in the water, and that affects the rate of decay. The condition of the body recovered from water is a surprise to most law enforcement officers the first time they see it. Unless recovered within the first day or so, the skin and muscle begin to change at such a rate as to become almost unrecognizable for what they are. Special bags are needed to contain the remains while bodies are removed from lakes or ponds. The bags have holes in the sides to allow the water to escape, without losing the body parts.
The condition of a body recovered in the heat can be a challenge on several levels. The body swells up and can pop if not handled correctly. In ‘cold cases,’ where the body has been sitting outside for months, perhaps only the skeleton will remain, requiring identification through dental records or bits of clothing still attached to the bones.
Homicide and some accident scenes can be bloody. It’s fair to say that most law enforcement personnel are deeply affected by the surprising amount of blood found at a murder scene or a particularly horrific accident scene. It’s tough to get used to that part of the job, however much experience you’ve had. But, it’s important to stay detached while collecting the evidence, taking the blood spatter photographs, and detailing the information, so that the victims can be represented properly in court.
On rare occasion, gloves and protective clothing that a CSI wears can rip or tear, exposing the CSI to possible infection or disease.
Stress and even grief can be factors that might affect the CSIs or ERTs. Working on fraudulent documents or stolen property is worlds away from dealing with dead bodies. Some larger departments offer (and even require) grief/stress counseling after emotionally tough cases, but the smaller departments just don’t have the resources for that. Imagine waking up night after night, reliving a crime scene in nightmares. In cases involving multiple deaths or children, the stress level can be especially high.
So, with all the possible negatives/challenges in the job of a CSI, why would anybody do it?
Because of the result. A job well done helps to put the bad guys away.
The job of a CSI changes based on geographic location and the needs of the department. Some towns have no budget for a full-time CSI and hand off cases requiring special evidence collection to County or State personnel. In general, big cities have more homicides and other crimes, so require full-time CSIs. In small towns, the Police Chief or Police Officer might do the investigating, collection and analysis of the evidence.
With those factors in mind, training requirements vary from region to region and from decade to decade. Some departments require college degrees (i.e. Criminal Justice or Forensics) for their law enforcement personnel, with the understanding that specialized training (i.e. photography, computers, etc) might be required as cases come up.
Then after getting hired, the CSI tech will spend some time as an apprentice to a more experienced person – think the ‘probies’ on NCIS, the TV show.
One realistic test to see if possible candidates are really suited to the job of CSI at a murder or accident scene is to have them visit a morgue or an ER. If they get through a busy, bloody night at an ER, they might be able to work in Homicide.
If not, I’m told that there is lots of work in Forensic Accounting and CyberCrimes for CSIs, that does not involve blood or body parts.
*Photos by Patti Phillips
I’ve said it before and it’s still true: Kerrian’s Notebook followers are a great bunch. A few of the readers mentioned that some of the posts in 2014 were ‘ripped from the headlines.’ Truth is often stranger than fiction, so while Kerrian is a fictional character, the posts are based in solid fact. As I say in my upcoming novel, “Murder is messy,” and it’s sometimes just plain weird. But, even a Homicide Detective cooks, goes on an occasional trip, and works with other law enforcement officers, so the fan faves were an interesting mix.
Below is the list of the most frequently read new posts on Kerrian’s Notebook in 2014.
Click on each title to take you to that page. 🙂
10. “How many bodies at the yard sale?” (p.122) – Based on a visit to the 2014 Writers’ Police Academy.
9. “Death by Elevator” (p.105) – Based on my real-life experience in April, 2014.
8. “50 More Ways to Die an Unnatural Death” (p.111) – The #1 vote getter was so popular that I wrote another list and it made the top 10 as well. 🙂
7. “Cemetery at the Golf Course” (p.116) – Yup, this one is true.
6. “Officer needs assistance!” (p.117) Photos taken at the re-enactment of a high-risk stop.
5. “75 Second Mookies” (p.126) – Created, taste tested and eaten by us. 🙂
4. “Chocolaty Chocolate Banana Muffins” (p.96) – Created, taste tested and eaten by us 🙂
3. “What does a firefighter wear?” (p.119) Info about uniforms and videos of heat resistance testing. Photos taken during the 2014 Writers’ Police Academy.
2. “What does a sheriff do?” (p.115) tells the difference between a Sheriff and a Police Chief, as explained to me by an active duty Chief.
…and the most frequently read new post on www.kerriansnotebook.com in 2014 was:
1. “100 Ways to Die an Unnatural Death” (p.100) Written in honor of the 100th Kerrian’s Notebook post. There were LOTS of writers that checked out the two unnatural death lists, used some of the ideas in their own writing and even contributed suggestions. Readers sent me some wickedly funny emails and some of those ideas are in #8!
Thanks to all of you, readership almost doubled in 2014. It was a phenomenal year!
Here’s to a great 2015, with fewer real-life homicides, more crimes solved and always, more amazing mysteries/suspense/thrillers to read.
*Photos by Patti Phillips