Kerrian’s Notebook, p. 100 “100 Ways to Die an Unnatural Death”


Shovels anyone?

Kerrian’s Notebook has been around for 100 pages. That deserves some serious noisemakers. Maybe that should be 100 handcuffs rattling or 100 jail cells slamming shut on the bad guys, but whatever noise we use to celebrate? Make it loud. We love a party!

In honor of the 100 pages, here is a list of 100 ways to die by unnatural causes. A death certificate (which lists the cause of death) is issued after any death in the USA, whether natural or otherwise, but if the attending medical practitioner notes anything suspicious, an inquiry may or may not be conducted. Keep in mind that a law enforcement officer will only investigate these deaths if a dastardly deed is suspected. Sometimes, foul play is not always apparent.

Can you spot the ones in the list that indicate murder was afoot?

1)   Drowning in bathtub

2)   Drowning in ocean because of undertow

3)   Drowning in a molasses spill

4)   Suffocation by pillow

5)   Suffocation after entire body has been painted

6)   Hanging by rope

7)   Electrocution for death penalty

8)   Electrocution by hairdryer

9)   Electrocution by electrified fence

10) Electrocution while changing light bulb

11) Hit by lightning

12) Knife in the chest

13) Knife in the leg

14) Axe to the head

15) Bleeding out because of slit wrists

16)   Arson

17)   Gas leak in house

18)   Smoke inhalation

19)   Bullet to the head

20)   Accidental drug overdose

21)   Medical malpractice

22)   Tripped and hit head, cracking skull

23)   Beaten to death

24)   Death by roller coaster

25)   Vending machine fell with your arm in it

26)   Lethal mix of drugs and alcohol

27)   Alcohol poisoning

28)   Radiation poisoning

29)   Arsenic in tea

30)   Baked in an oven

31)   Allergic reaction to shellfish

32)   Allergic reaction to nuts

33)   Attacked by wolves

34)   Bitten by cobra

35)   Clawed by tiger

36)   Mauled by a shark

37)   Attacked by alligator – C.C.J.

38)   Bitten by several fire ants

39)   Bitten by poisonous spiders

40)   Crushed by boa constrictor

41)   Thrown from a horse

  42)   Trampled by elephants

  43)   Gored by a bull

  44)  Bitten by scorpion

  45)  Bitten by mosquito during sleep – allergic reaction to bite – B.R

  46)  Poisoned by contact with weed killers

  47)  Poisoned by ingesting toxic flowers/leaves


48)   Crushed by falling tree

49)    Stepped on a land mine

50)    Bomb explosion

51)    Rocket attack

52)    Hit in the head by a pitched ball

53)    Death in a boxing match

54)    Car accident, crushed

55)    Car accident, gas tank explodes

56)    Car accident – car ripped in half by telephone wire – anonymous

57)    Hit by a car while crossing the street

58)    Hit by commuter train

59)    Propane tank on BBQ exploded

60)    Chemical spill

61)    Airplane crash

62)    Airplane mid-air explosion

63)    Parachute didn’t open

64)    Parasail collided with cliff

65)    Choked on food

66)    Choked on bottle cap

67)    Pushed off a cliff

68)    Fell off a roof

69)   Jumped out a window

70)   Froze in a snow bank

71)   Stabbed with icicle

72)   Buried in an avalanche

73)   Fell off a ski lift

74)   Starved to death

75)   Mercury poisoning

76)   Asbestos poisoning

77)   Decapitation

78)   Strangled by another person

79)    Strangled – tie caught in laminating machine while wearing it

80)    Sword fight

81)    Sniper bullet

82)    Stabbed with knitting needle

83)    Hung upside down by feet until dead

84)    Death by dehydration

85)    Sinkhole collapsed with person in it – C.C.J.

86)    Latrine on flatbed of truck fell onto your car – J.P.M.

87)    Death by barbed wire fence – J.P.M.

88)    Cyanide salts in an almond cake – E.M.

89)    Elevator doors malfunctioned and closed on neck

90)    Walked into empty elevator shaft

91)    Jumped off diving board into empty pool

92)    Got stuck in a storm drain while trying to retrieve wallet

93)    Trapped inside a folding bed

94)    Buried under falling bookshelves

95)    Mangled by farming/industrial machinery

96)    Botulism

97)    Shot yourself while cleaning a gun

98)    Crashed into tree while ziplining

   99)   Bungee cord broke while jumping

  100)  Hypothermia


Sources? I’ve lived longer than I’d like to admit and over 90 of these deaths are ones I’ve heard about in the news or seen in the movies over the years. Some of the Kerrian’s Notebook readers have told me about a few more. Thanks to Barbara Rosario, Christy Crowley Johnson, Jessica Pettengill Messinger, and a person who prefers to remain anonymous, for their ripped-from-the-headlines suggestions. Thanks to mystery writer Edith Maxwell for an intriguing cause of death. I wonder if one of her books will include that COD? Remind me to stay away from any almond dishes at her house.  😉



*Photos by Patti Phillips, but nobody died while she was shooting them, nor is the body part in the fourth picture real flesh and blood.




KN, p. 124 “Is there more crime on Halloween?”


Halloween Pumpkin


Worried about your personal safety on Halloween? Afraid to leave your house unguarded, because of potential break-ins while you’re at the party across town? Think crime spikes on Halloween?


Seriously? That may depend on where you live, what day of the week Halloween occurs and whether or not it’s cold that night. Apparently, criminals don’t like to go out on cold and rainy nights any more than we do.


A Columbus, Ohio, TV program – Crime Tracker10 – looked into safety on Halloween in 2013, wondering if there were more break-ins while people were out trick-or-treating. And they found nothing remarkable at all, just some underage drinking, and occasional theft. They had to look back at statistics from several years ago to find anything as serious as disorderly conduct on the books. They did find that the area police departments traditionally put on extra patrol officers that night. A visible cop presence may be enough to keep the unfriendlies at home for the night.



Boston area residents don’t seem to have the same experience. The numbers on this chart published by the Boston Globe shows violent crime rates in the city during a four-year period. “The evening violent crime count on October 31 is about 50 percent higher than on any other date during the year, and twice the daily average.” Pretty grim. I would stay home or drive my kids to a party, walk them to the door, and not do any neighborhood trick-or-treating.



A website devoted to information about forensics colleges found that certain areas of the country focus on prevention of specific Halloween crimes:


  • Orlando, Florida – on the alert for adults wearing masks
  • Georgetown, Washington, DC – watching for burglars
  • South L.A. – watching out for children running from between parked cars
  • Lompoc Valley, CA – flamingo flocking (those plastic lawn flamingoes are used as a way to refocus Halloween energy. You can pay to have a bunch of flamingos put on lawns or pay ‘insurance’ to keep from getting ‘flocked.’ (It’s a fundraiser for the PAL)
  • San Luis Obispo – increases the staff for the night and doubles the fine for certain offenses





Halloween is celebrated all over the world, and in 2013, a reporter in the UK looked into Halloween crime in the USA. He found some pretty nasty cases, but I’ll only chat about two. You can read about the rest by clicking on the link.


1) A nine-year-old girl dressed in a black costume, complete with black hat and white tassel, was accidentally shot by a relative who thought she was a skunk. She was outside her house in Pennsylvania when he fired a shotgun, hitting her in the shoulder, arm, back and neck.

I don’t know about you, but all the nine-year-olds I ever met were at least four times the size of the biggest skunk I’ve ever seen. The report did not mention whether alcohol was involved.


2) When people in Delaware saw a body hanging from a tree in 2005, they assumed it was a Halloween decoration. Nope. By the time anyone realized that it was actually a dead woman, she had been there for three hours.

By Anthony Bond:


I doubt that I will be able to pass an outdoor Halloween display again, without checking to see that the scarecrows really are made of straw.


Stay safe everyone and have a Happy Halloween!





KN, p. 114 “How many mechanics does it take?”


Last Monday evening, we dropped Bridget’s Mustang off at the local repair shop. (Read what happened on Monday during the day here.)

They usually do a great job on the cars, so we had no doubt that whatever caused it to die in the driveway would be sorted out. The guy at the front desk had told us on the phone to hold on to the keys until the morning, so we did.


Tuesday 8:30am – The key and fob were handed over and we had a short chat about what the car would not do. Electrical systems still functioned, but it just wouldn’t start. They still had the work order from the day before, so everything looked good for a speedy fix. “No problem. We’ll get to the bottom of it.”


Tuesday 3pm – I called to get the diagnosis. The car had not been looked at yet. “Sorry, we got backed up. We’ll get right on it, but we’ll have to keep it overnight.” Bridget raised her eyebrows. I reassured her, “Tomorrow, Sis.”


Wednesday Noon – I called.

“Any news yet?”

“We had an emergency and had to put another car on the lift. We’ll get to yours this afternoon.”

 Emergency? Do repair shops have emergencies?


Wednesday 2:30pm – They called me. “You needed a fuel pump. We’ll have it done by close of business.”


4pm – They called me.

“Do you have another set of keys? We think the theft system is overriding the ignition. You did need a fuel pump, but the key you gave us is not the original key.”


Hmmmm… the theft light flashes whenever the onboard computer thinks someone is trying to steal the car. Bridget said that it flashes when she opens the car door, before she puts the key into the ignition. I had given the guys my backup key, so that Bridget could hold on to the original. Ya know, in case somebody locked himself (or herself) out of the car while she was visiting.


I took them the original. Bridget did not want to talk to them. She wanted her car back.


Thursday 10am – I called. It was on the lift. “Call back after lunch.”


1pm – I called. Nobody knew anything. The guy I had been talking to was off for the afternoon.


3pm – They called me.

The man on the phone said, “I made a decision on my own initiative. I put it on a flatbed and took it down the road to the dealer. We had no choice. We can’t get it started. We think that something is wrong with the key and the computer and they both need to be reset. That can only be done at the dealer. They’ll get it into the schedule tomorrow.”


Bridget steamed and threatened to fly home. Sheila took her out for the evening. Lots of door slamming as they left. I stayed out of sight.


Friday Noon: I called the repair shop. A different guy was now talking to me. He had not heard anything, but promised to call the dealership.


3:30pm  I called the repair shop. The ‘new guy’ had not spoken to the people at the dealership, but asked me to ‘hold’ while he did. I was told that the Mustang was next.


4:50pm  The repair shop guy called and said the key fob had been reset at the dealer, but the car still would not start on its own. They had to cross the wires to jumpstart it. The car was on the lift and the dealer mechanics were looking for the problem. I would not see the car until Monday, maybe Tuesday.


You don’t want to know what Bridget said. She complained a bit about the lousy treatment her favorite car ever was getting. In different words.


The weekend was seriously quiet at our house. Bridget tried to get a flight out, but last minute tickets were triple the usual price. She made a few tense phone calls to rearrange her back-home appointments and then went shopping for groceries with Sheila. They cooked all weekend. I stayed out of their way. I think the freezer is stocked for years.


Monday 9:45am – A repair shop guy called. “The dealer mechanic is working on it as we speak. They actually had it running for a few minutes.”

He explained again why the car had been taken to the dealer. I kept thinking $$$.


Monday, 1pm – I called the repair shop. Nobody wanted to tell me the bad news, so the backup front desk guy got on the phone. “The entire security system shut down, and they think the key was at fault (saying that the key – the original – was a fake) and had shorted out the system.




I was there when Bridget bought the car. This was the same key fob she’d always had. I told the guy that. My voice might have gotten a little loud.


The dealer had ordered a special security system part that was going to take three days to arrive. Three days?  Where was this part coming from? Now I’m thinkin’ BIG $$$.


And then the repair shop guy said, “The car will not be ready until late Thursday.”


Bridget and Sheila both join me in saying, “There will be bodies.”


*Photos taken by Patti Phillips

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