Archive for the ‘Medical’ Category

I was so sure I had covered this before – Imagine that? So here goes… The Zodiac Killer is a name given to an unidentified serial killer who was in the north California area from the late 1960’s to early 1970’s. The name comes from a letter to the Bay Area press in 1969, it was one of a series that taunted press, police and public alike.

There are 7 confirmed victims, four possible murder victims and a suspected escapee, the murderer claimed a death count of 37 but 12 can be included on the case files from the main information given. The first of the ZK’s murders are considered to have been attributed to those of Betty Low Jensen and David Faraday. On 20th December 1968 at Lake Herman Road, the couple were out on their first date, what they know about the case is that it is believed another car came up before 11pm that night, Jensen exited the car, possibly under threat and as she did so the killer shot Faraday as he was half way out of the car. Jensen was gunned down 28 yards away by five shots, the killer then drove off.

4th July 1969 Darlene Ferrin and Michael Mageau drove into the Blue Rock Springs Park and parked up. A second car came up but drive off almost immediately, then around ten minutes later the car returned, the driver got out and came to the passengers side, he was carrying a flash light and a 9mm Luger. The killer fired off five shots and both were hit, the bullet passed through Mageau into Ferdinand, the killer then walked away. Mageau’s moaning drew him back to the car where he fired two more times. Ferrin died but Mageau survived despite being shot in the face, neck and chest. Someone called up to claim responsibility for all four and police traced the call to a gas station phone booth, they got no further.

1st August 1969, three letters reached the press offices of Vellejo Times Herald, San Francisco Chronicle and The San Francisco Examiner. They took credit for the four shootings and each one had a third of a 408-symbol cryptogram, which would reveal his identity. The killer demanded all three be printed across their front pages or he would cruise around to kill until he racked up a dozen over the weekend. The Chronicle posted their letter and put up a quote from Vallejo Police Chief, Jack E Stiltz, saying they needed more proof of his identity. All three parts were eventually published and the murder spree seemingly never occurred.

7th August, a letter was received at The San Francisco Examiner, where he wrote ‘Dear Editor, This is the Zodiac speaking’ and he went on to provide details about the murders that had not been released to the public.

8th August, Donald and Bettye Harden cracked the code, albeit misspelled, but it said that he was collecting, slaves for the afterlife. He said he would not give away his identity because it would slow down, or stop, him from collecting.

27th September 1969, students Bryan Hartnell and Cecelia Shephard were picnicking when a man wearing a black executioners hood with with sunglasses over the eye-holes and a cross-like symbol with a circle around it on a bib around his neck. He approached with a gun, said he was a convict who had escaped and demanded their car and the money to get to Mexico.

Shephard was told to tie up Hartnell and then the attacker tied up Shephard, Hartnell was expecting it to be a bizarre robbery but both were stabbed repeatedly and the killer then went to their car and used a black felt-tip pen to draw the symbol and then wrote “Vallejo/12-20-68/7-4-69/Sept 27-69 – 6.30/by knife”. The killer than called in his crime to Napa County Sheriff from a pay phone. Shephard was conscious when he was found and gave a description of the attacker but died later on, Hartnell survived and recounted the event.

11th October 1969, a passenger got into Paul Stine’s Cab and wanted to go to Presidio Heights. The result was that Stine got shot in the head by the passenger, he took is wallet, car keys and a section of his shirt. Three teenagers saw the events and called the police.

14th October 1969, the Chronicle got another Zodiac letter containing the stolen section of Stine’s shirt. He proceeded to threaten to kill school children on a school bus. His plan was to shoot out a tyre then pick them off one by one as they came out of the bus. 2pm on the 20th October, he called demanding F. Lee Bailey or Melvin Bellie appear on the local T.V. station A.M San Francisco. Bellie appeared and the lines were kept open, someone called in saying they were the Zodiac Killer several times, they called themselves Sam and arranged to meet in Daly City but the suspect never arrived.

9th November 1969 the Zodiac Killer then sent another 340 character cryptogram, so far this one has not been decoded. The day after he mailed a 7 page letter saying two policemen had spoken to him only three-minutes after he had shot Stine and then on 20th December, that same year, he mailed Bellie supposedly he wanted help from the very famous criminal lawyer.

22nd March 1970 saw Kathleen Johns off to see her mother, she was 7 months pregnant and had her 10 month-old daughter with her. She was on Highway 132 near Modesto and a car came up behind flashing its light and honking the horn. Johns pulled off the road and stopped, the man in the car said he’d seen her wheel nuts were loose on her back tire and offered to help her out. When she tried to drive off the entire wheel came off and the man came back, he offered to help take her to a gas station, and stranded, she got in with her daughter.

The car passed several stations but did not stop, when she asked him why he did not stop he would change the subject. John’s escaped when she jumped out with her daughter at an intersection, eventually he gave up because he could not find her. She then managed to hitch a lift to the police station and the cops found her car gutted and torched.

20th April 1970 he wrote again with another 13 character cipher and said he was not responsible for a police station bombing, he threatened instead again to aim at a school bus. 28th April he then wrote to say that he was upset not to see any of the Zodiac symbol buttons and in response had shot someone. The closest match for a shooting that could be found was for a police Seargent shot in his car. His case however was not definitively linked as a Zodiac killing and remains unsolved. In the letter he also left instructions to find a bomb, the cipher he gave was not decoded but no bomb was ever found or detonated either.

24th July 1970 the Zodiac took credit for John’s abduction, he left another letter on 7th October 1970 with the Zodiac symbol on it drawn in blood. Inspectors Armstrong and Toschi, both on the case, said it was probably it was the killers blood.

27th October 1970, Chronicle reporter Paul Avery got a Halloween Card signed with Z and the symbol. He had been covering the case and threatened that he would be next. Avery got another letter soon after they gave similarities between the Zodiac’s killings and that of the murder of Cerri Jo Bates, four years prior. He reported his findings.

22nd March 1971 and a card was posted to Paul Avery at the Chronicle claiming responsibility for a missing woman called Donna Lass, she had gone missing 6th September 1970 and was thought to be from the Zodiac. Lass’s body has never been found.

13th November 1972, Vallejo Times-Herald ran a story that postulated two young people from Santa Barbara were the Zodiac’s victims. The victims were Robert Domingoes and Linda Edwards who had been shot on 3rd June 1963. They’d been shot and hidden in a small shack but the killer had failed to burn it down.

The final letter authenticated as the Zodiac came three years later on 29th January, 1974. It praised the horror film The Exorcist as a comedy and tallied his victim score as 37.

Subsequent letters came but after that last they have not been verified as the original Zodiac. In April 2004 the case was marked as inactive but not closed. The case was then reopened in March 2007. Several of the victims have been named, put forwards and even had people come forwards to confess but as of yet no charges have been brought forwards and no one has been put on trial.

The Zodiac killer has inspired films, music, games, liberate and was used in a mobile game, one I played for a while, which was EA’s Cause of Death. If the killer is still alive he would be in his late 60’s as a minimum and so he may have been incarcerated, killed, committed suicide or even still walking around.

Zodiac-Killer

Anatoly Moskvin hit the news in 2011, for a rather bizarre and disturbing set of criminal charges. He was arrested in connection with a series of grave desecration events in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. Moskvin’s occupation was as a local historian and cemetery explorer. He is said to speak 13 languages and described as a ‘genius’ but it seems he had something odd in his home.

His house contained 29 life-sized dolls made from various female corpses in mummified states. The dolls were brightly dressed and their faces and limbs were covered in cloth. At the point the details were released it was not clear is each body/doll had actual remains in each one and I couldn’t see much in the way of a follow up, but the police and teams involved likely have a hard job of identifying all of them.

In the flat the investigators found the photographs and nameplate taken from headstones, instruction for making dolls and maps of cemeteries in the region. Shoes found in his home matched footprints found in the cemeteries and it is reported that he singled out Muslim Graves.

Lonely? Disturbed? Moskvin was caught out and no doubt this bizarre story will yield more details in the future but for now it is a curious psychological piece, what was he aiming at in the end if anything at all?

There we go a creepy tea break read!

Building 25 at the complex is the one with the harshest reputation around this centre. It is one of the abandoned units on a site that is till used and doesn’t reflect the history, fortunately. Located at Queens Village, Queens, New York the name most likely comes from the Creed family that originally farmed there. In 1892 after about 20 years of the NRA (National Rifle Association) leasing the area the land went back to the state.

It’s life as a hospital began in 1912 with 32 patients, by the Lunacy Commission of New York State. By 1918 there were 150 housed in the abandoned National Guard barrack. The facility kept expending and by 1959 numbers were at 7,000 patients. It, like many, suffered from overcrowding and under-staffing. In 1970 there was a killer placed there, former NYPD officer Robert Torsney, who was committed there due to insanity, after murdering 15-year-old Randolph Evans in Brooklyn.

It’s decline, similar again to many, began in the 1960’s thanks to advancements in treatment and a desire to keep people from becoming institutionalised. There were reports that in 1974 patient abuse and neglect was out of control. The campus was investigated because within 20 months were had been rape, assault, fires and six suicides plus other crimes reported. 1984 saw the death of a patient who was struck in the throat by a staff member whilst restrained in a straight jacket.

Fortunately some of the area is in use and performs more modern care, though it still has some structures like building 25 which have been left to fester. Pigeon mess, mountains of the stuff have collected, vandals and ‘urban explorers’ with no respect have added to the state of the place. It isn’t somewhere to go if you have a weak stomach thanks to the state of the place and the smell.

abandonednyc-creedmoor-6853

It is labelled as one of the most haunted places in South Korea, but the background may have more sadness to them over the stories of the paranormal. It, like many, carries the stories about doctors as mad as their patients. Supposedly a spate of mysterious deaths contributed to the closure of the institute.

The hospital has really been a victim of ‘fakelore’ which hasn’t done the local area any favours either. It is closed to the public and suffers from people breaking in due to vandalism.

The hospital was closed down mainly due to increased cost and demand on economical levels. Lack of money no doubt led to unsanitary conditions and there was a problem with the sewage disposal unit. The owner then went off the United States and left without doing any paperwork.

The Korean lack of money outside of the larger area often means that buildings are left abandoned. The run down areas and ghost stories then become a detriment to the area as they put off anyone new moving in.

It also promotes criminals to use these places as hideouts, and an example – whilst not Gonjiam – is from 2010 when Kim Gil-Tae killed a 13 year-old and hid out in an abandoned house in Pusan to avoid the police. It is not always just about ghost stories and ghost hunting, there are other issues that should be taken into consideration, especially when they seem made-up to the detriment of those around them.

A beautiful shot here!

Gonjiam Mental Hospital 곤지암 정신병원

A wonderful thing about being in England is there is a lot to see and do, from Nottinghamshire it’s a fairly short journey into the Peak District. One of the places on my list was Eyam Village, the plague village as it is also referred to.

Eyam village would have been quite isolated during the period of the plague and our journey by car was very far removed from the foot/horse travel of the day. It is however beautiful and part of the Peak Pilgrimage, its also a working village where people see us tourists coming through every day.

In 1665 Mary Cooper lived with her two sons and a lodger called George Viccars, who was a travelling tailor. She was a widow and was living fairly comfortably. Around march 1665 she had re-married to Alexander Hadfield and his will shows that he was also a tailor. She is also referred to as Mary Hadfeld in his will. Tradition holds it that a box came from London and arrived August/September containing clothes, her husband was away at this period and it seems likely he stayed with non-infected family for the year as he came back and died 12 months later. The box was opened and found to have wet cloth in it, so Viccars hung them to dry and within the week. It is thought that perhaps a flea was in the clothing and this bit him, within another two weeks Mary’s youngest son, Edward, had also died.

It was the start of the outbreak of the plague in Eyam, in more modern studies some suggestions were put forwards such as typhus, anthrax or measles. Anna Seward was the daughter of the village rector saying that in 1757 men of the village had dug up rotten linen materials and three of the men succumbed to a putrid fever, another several villagers also died. Does this support the idea of anthrax? However, it is a generally accepted event of plague that has been given to this time period.

As records show the wealthier people left the village early on, some of the poor also tried. It wasn’t possible for everyone to simply lock up and leave, often their arrival to other places was met with hostility. It’s not solely an Eyam experience but if villagers/townsfolk herd where people were coming from they may well have been driven out too. Sheffield people created barriers and had guards there to stop strangers from entering and possibly bringing infection. This also led to some villagers taking to living in the fields and caves around Eyam Moor, creating makeshift homes to avoid contracting the plague.

October that year gave another 23 listed victims, it included Jonathan Cooper (Mary’s eldest son) and by April 1666 there were 73 deaths, some would have been natural but there was a definite spike to their numbers on the records. A lull in May would have presented a sense of hope and then in June it began again.

The rector, William Mompesson and his wife had sent both their children away, his wife Catherine begged them to go too but William felt a strong sense of duty to remain. William remained there and Catherine stuck by him, this choice came at the cost of her early demise. He was a young rector at 28 years old and his position was also taken up during the point of a fairly tumultuous religious period. Thomas Stanley had returned to the village after his and Shoreland Adams had been forced to leave down to Puritan pressure. Stanley had come back and he was liked in the village, both of them had differing religious views but the one thing they did work on together was what they could do about the plague.

It is known that during the plague period people were forbidden from crossing a stream to go to the local Bakewell market, they would leave their money in the local waters and trade from a distance. This was already in place by the time they had got the stages next taken. The villagers consented to three decisions to try and stop the plague from spreading and to bring it under control.

The first was that they would have no more organised funerals and church burials, the demand was too high and so people were advised to bury their own dead. It meant the clergy could do all the other work surrounding the death and it must have been hard for all involved not to have their dead buried on consecrated grounds, it prevented the highly religious people of the time from meeting their relatives on Judgement Day. Bodies had to be buried fast and they had to be wrapped and under the ground as it was thought it would help to stop the spread too.

A second decision was made to lock up the church until the epidemic was over, services would be held in the open air. How the plague spread seemed confusing and unclear. Contact needed to be kept to a minimum, whilst they wanted to unite and keep to their services the villagers also understood this was necessary. A rock, The Delph, and the open area near it was chosen as the rock could act like a pulpit and to this day an annual Thanksgiving is held there on the last Sunday in August.

The third decision was quarantine, it was to try and stop the spread of disease beyond the village boundaries. It is speculated that the people of Eyam had little choice and viewed as forced heroism but it would only have taken one person to ignore that and get away with the disease for it to have become worse so it seems that they all agreed and kept to it.

The Earl of Devonshire lived in Chatsworth House, he was their chief benefactor and arranged for good and medical supplies to be left at the southern border of Eyam. Any requests for specific items could be left at the boundary stone and paid for there too. Cynically this kept the Earl away from the infection but without him they would have had nothing to sustain them so he was doing something to help the local population. Money was placed in running water or wells, or was sterilised by placing it in holes made in the boundary stones were the money was put into vinegar.

The villagers were isolated but the disease did not spread, all they had to do now was wait and pray. The last death was recorded in either October or 1st November 1666. 1664 showed the consensus with around 160 households (800 population) and by the end an estimated 430 people. The Hearth tax return for 1670 suggests 350 taxed households but does not list exemptions and another suggestion of only 83 survivors seems more plausibly to be 83 households. It would be hard to exact numbers for those who died to the plague too, as an example Jane Hadfield had a baby that died only 2 days after birth, not listed down to plague but not ascertained if it contributed either.

In December 1666 the Christmas period was one of recovery, slowly life was returning to the stricken village and in the summer of 1667 they held a ‘great burning’ to remove all objects etc that might carry any remnants of the plague seed.

There are still recorded outbreaks of the plague today, in 1994 there was an outbreak in India and there have been pockets of cases reported in the USA – be wary of the chipmunks and prairie dogs in some of the larger national parks. The latest listed case on WHO is in Madagascar as of 2017.

If you want a lovely day out in the Peaks and want to learn more you can visit and see a museum as well as all the sign posts around the village. It was, for me anyway, a wonderful day out with a lot to take in

Sources:
Eyam Plague Village 1665-1666 by John Clifford
The Village Museum and boards around the village.
The National Trust
World Health Organisation