Nicola Kirk: Author and Collector of Paranormal Stories and Other Strange Encounters

Posts tagged ‘suicide’


The Grim Reaper Cometh: Appearances Can Be Deceptive

As promised, here is the final part of Kenneth Bailey’s article.  Sometimes there is just no getting away from Death’s peculiar sense of humour and Fate always seems keen to offer a helping hand to the terminally stupid …

“The founder of the famous American Detective Agency, Allan Pinkerton, was walking to work one morning when he bit his tongue.  He later died of gangrene.

Mrs Vera Czermak of Prague learned that her husband was carrying on with another woman and decided to end it all.  She leaped out of her third floor window in despair just as her husband was coming home from work.  She landed right on top of him although she had no idea that he was there and ended up with minor injuries.  Hubby, on the other hand, immediately joined the ‘odd innings’ club.

Constipation: Not for the faint of heart

In 1760, George II died of heart failure brought on by chronic constipation.  He was sitting on his toilet trying to do something about it at the time.  French President, Felix Faure, came to an untimely end in 1899 whilst trying out for the first time a specially designed ‘Sex Chair’.  The records do not show who was the prime witness to this incident.

William Killian, an airline employee, was killed in Denver, Colorado, by a duffel bag.  He was loading it into a plane when a revolver, which it contained, went off and killed him.

In conclusion, there are two sides to every coin, and there are those who would like to join the ‘club’, but just don’t seem to be able to manage it.  Take for instance Yugoslavian Bank Clerk, Jovo Lucic.  When he was jilted by his girlfriend in Belgrade, he too decided to end it all.  He stole a car with the intention of crashing it into a tree, but it broke down.  He stole another, but lacked the courage to go too fast into the tree and just dented the bumper.  He was subsequently charged with theft but while he was being interviewed he plunged a dagger into his chest.  The quick actions of the police officers saved his life and when he had recovered he was sentenced to twelve months in prison.  On the way to his cell he dived out of a window but landed in a snow drift which broke his fall.  To date, poor old Jovo is still with us, but no doubt he’ll try again when he comes out.”

Stupidity: It Knows No Bounds…

Another rich source of unfortunate endings is the Fortean Times Magazine who regularly run a ‘Strange Deaths’ column – always worth a read.  It would seem that for some people there is just no hiding from that inevitable sticky end whilst for others it remains tantalisingly out of reach…



Death: Desperately Seeking The Stupid!

Continuing the theme of strange deaths and questionable common sense, here’s part two of Kenneth Bailey’s article, “We All Have To Go Sometime”:

“A chap called Stratton, from England, recently decided to end it all after a row with his wife.  He made up his mind that gassing himself would be the easiest way out, so he settled himself down by the oven and waited for the ‘big sleep’.  What he hadn’t taken into consideration was the fact that he had been converted to North Sea gas so nothing happened.  When he realised what he had done, he developed second thoughts and decided to think things over, so he lit up a cigar…

Starvin’ Marvin…

Eating and drinking aren’t necessarily safe pastimes either.  An eighteenth century glutton called Biggars had a snack one evening consisting of salad, twelve dumplings, a gallon of beer, a loaf of bread and six pounds of bacon.  He apparently enjoyed the meal, but it was to be his last as he had an attack of apoplexy immediately afterwards and met his maker.  This was hardly surprising considering the amount he had consumed, but even if you don’t overdo it you’re not guaranteed to escape.  The poet Johnson was in a bar in 1902 when he decided to leave after having just one drink.  Unfortunately he fell from the bar stool as he was getting up to leave and died on the spot.

In 1951, A German carpenter was working on a roof when a freak six foot long spear of ice fell from the sky and split him in two.  The origin of the ice was never established, unlike the lump of frozen offal which fell out of an aircraft, fatally striking a German farm worker in 1968.  It seems that if you’re in Germany, it is advisable to wear a crash helmet outdoors!

Here’s One I Made Earlier

In Peru, in 1971, Catalina Ledesma gave her five children some cakes for tea.  Within an hour, four of them were dead.  Local authority investigators concluded that a strong insecticide had got mixed in with the sugar she had used so they destroyed the remaining sugar.  Five days later, the funeral was held and Mrs Ledesma served the mourners a meal which included some more cakes.  One hour later another seven people were dead including Mrs Ledesma herself.  Police discovered that the insecticide was in the flour, the sugar was okay.”

Keep an eye out for the final part of Kenneth’s article where he regales us with a few more stories about the unfortunate and the just plain stupid…



The Rock – Alcatraz

The Americans have the right idea when it comes to prisons.  Build a prison on a rock in the middle of the sea and leave the buggers there to rot.  Why do we not do this sort of thing, too?

Alcatraz Island (originally named La Isla de los Alcatraces – ‘the Island of the Pelicans’), sits out in the middle of San Francisco Bay.  It’s a long swim to shore (1.5 miles) and the sea is rather hazardous and unforgiving, so once you’re out on ‘The Rock’, you’re there until you decide to behave yourself.

Alcatraz has housed prisoners from as far back as 1861.  The main prison block was completed in 1912 and has held famous inmates such as Robert Stroud (known as the Bird Man of Alcatraz, even though he wasn’t actually allowed to keep any birds), Al Capone and George ‘Machine Gun’ Kelly.  That’s quite some guest list.

Life Behind Bars

Now, of course, the prison is no longer in use by the living, but the dead are apparently keen to stay in residence.

Apart from the fifteen inmates who died of natural causes within the prison’s maximum security walls, eight people were murdered at Alcatraz by other inmates and five others committed suicide.  Although the prison is brimming with ghost stories, here are a few of my favourites to whet your appetite:

Al Capone was sent to Alcatraz in 1934 for income tax evasion.  He became ill with neurosyphilis which had apparently been left untreated.  His mental health began to suffer and he became too frightened to go out and mix with the other inmates during recreational periods, so he was allowed to sit in the shower room and learn to play the banjo.  Even though the prison is now disused, people still report hearing the sound of a banjo being played when they are near the shower room.

Al Capone: Still practising the banjo?

Cell 14D is what is known as a ‘hole’ cell.  Unruly prisoners were kept in ‘hole’ cells for up to 19 days at a time in complete isolation.  A pretty miserable existence, I’m sure you will agree.  Still, ‘hole’ cells were one up from ‘strip’ cells where an inmate had to survive in the dark with no clothing and meagre food rations.

Cell 14D has a curious legend attached to it.  It is alleged that in the 1940’s a prisoner was thrown into the cell for some misdemeanour, but as soon as the door was closed he immediately began to scream the place down, shouting that there was some kind of creature in the cell with him with glowing eyes and it was trying to kill him.  The screaming carried on throughout the night but the next morning the inmate was… strangely silent.  When the guards checked on him, he was found dead.  He had been strangled.  Now, this in itself is rather eerie (unless you assume one of the guards had had enough of the prisoner screeching all night and decided to silence him) but the next morning when the guards carried out a head count the guards found they had one too many prisoners.  A few of the guards said they had seen the ghost of the screaming man in amongst the other inmates but the phantom quickly vanished.

Hell Hole:  a solitary confinement cell

Considering all the terrible things that must have happened at Alcatraz over the years, it is perhaps not surprising that the sounds of crying and moaning are often heard and cell doors can sometimes be heard clanging shut on their own.  Guards and police officers have also reported seeing and hearing strange apparitions while they guard the deserted prison.

If you are lucky enough to go on a tour of Alcatraz, you will be walking in the steps of its many former prisoners, some of whom were fortunate to leave after they finished their time and some of whom… never managed to leave at all.


©Nicola Kirk and 2010






A Ghost Hunter’s Dream… Waverly Hills Sanatorium, Kentucky

If I could pick anywhere in the world to investigate, this place would be it.

Hidden away from the public eye down a long, meandering road lurks Waverley Hills Sanatorium, a vast tuberculosis sanatorium which opened in 1910.  At that time, the residents of Kentucky were up to their eyeballs with victims of what they called ‘the White Plague’.  The disease was incurable and treatments were pretty gruesome; in some cases they were considered worse than the disease itself.

All Part Of The Treatment – Patients at Waverly Hills

It is believed that between 60,000 to 63,000 people died at the sanatorium so it’s not surprising that the monstrous building is such a magnet for paranormal investigators and thrill seekers alike.

Room 502

Scene of a suicide or urban legend?

There are various legends about Room 502 but most seem to centre around the idea that a nurse committed suicide there, either by hanging herself from a light fitting (would a light fitting support the weight of a body, I wonder) or in the doorway, depending on who you speak to.  The rumours are she either suffered from depression or she killed herself because she fell pregnant out of wedlock.  Yet another story goes that she was suffering from TB herself and didn’t want a long, lingering death.  The fact that there are so many different versions of the nurse suicide story tends to beg the question did a nurse die in Room 502 at all or is it just a story to excite the masses.  However, there are reports that people have seen the apparition of a nurse on this floor and some say a feeling despair descends when inside Room 502.  Further reports have been made of a voice telling people to ‘get out!’

The Body Chute

The tunnel used to hide corpses from the patients…

A 500 foot tunnel was constructed at the same time as the main building, running from the sanatorium itself to the foot of the hill. It was originally designed to help convey supplies to the hospital as well as a nice warm route to work for the staff to take in the winter.

The tunnel took on a rather darker use as the TB epidemic got worse and people began to die on a frighteningly regular basis.  The Directors at the sanatorium decided that seeing deceased patients being carted away didn’t do much for the morale of the other patients and so the tunnel took on another role and was also used to discreetly cart corpses away from the hospital.

Other Spectral Encounters

One story that seems to pop up on a regular basis is the sighting of an old woman at the main entrance.  She is seen with blood running from wounds on her chained wrists and she begs for help before disappearing.  Children have been heard playing within the sanatorium, particularly on the top floor where they were encouraged to play outside as part of their treatment.  Strange lights have been seen in some rooms even though the building hasn’t had an electricity supply for quite some time…

Considering the sheer amount of misery Waverly Hills Sanatorium has seen over the years, perhaps it’s not surprising that some of its unfortunate earlier residents can’t move on.


©Nicola Kirk and 2010


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