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Offline Solvay_1927

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Strange Death
« on: 28/10/2005 01:43:14 »
RONALD OPUS

At the 1994 annual awards dinner given for Forensic Science, AAFS President Dr. Ron 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 storey building intending to commit suicide.  He left a note to that 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 descendent were aware that a safety net had been installed just below at 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, "a person 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, whence 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. They both said they thought the shotgun was unloaded.  The old man said it was his 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, 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.

The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son, for the death of Ronald Opus.

Now comes the exquisite 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-storey building on March 23rd, only to be killed by a shotgun blast passing through the ninth storey window.

The son had actually murdered himself so the medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

(A true story from Associated Press, by Kurt Westervelt)



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Offline Thondar

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Re: Strange Death
« Reply #1 on: 28/10/2005 22:47:03 »
Hey, I saw that story on a movie named Magnolia i think. There was also the story of a guy found in the middle of a forest in fire, but the mad had a diving suit. I don't remember how that ended.

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Offline Solvay_1927

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Re: Strange Death
« Reply #2 on: 31/10/2005 21:23:58 »
Not seen Magnolia. Is it any good?

Re: the one about the man wearing a diving suit found dead in the middle of a forest fire ...

The man had been diving in the sea nearby, unaware that helicopters were being used to scoop water from the sea (using huge buckets on the end of long wires) then carrying the water back to pour on the forest fire.

Not a very nice way to go.  But I suspect this story is just an urban legend.


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Offline Thondar

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Re: Strange Death
« Reply #3 on: 31/10/2005 21:45:27 »
Yes, its a good movie, you have to see it.

About the Story, i'm sure that i've seen a TvShow called "The Myth Busters" and I think they were trying to recreate that story by sucking a guy with something like the ones in Helicopters and Nope. They could'nt get it work.

I believe that many strange deaths are just fiction or urban legends, but there are also too many ways to slip off this world and the one that you wrote is simply amazing.

I give it three thumbs up!
uuhhh???!! how was that?

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another_someone

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Re: Strange Death
« Reply #4 on: 10/11/2005 17:24:44 »
Regarding RONALD OPUS

http://www.snopes.com/horrors/freakish/opus.htm
quote:

This amazing tale appeared on the Internet in August 1994. Prized both for the entertaining logic problem it presents as well as the morally just surprise ending, even years later it remains a cyber-favorite and continues to be forwarded to ever-widening circles of netizens.
A story this good should be true. Alas, it's not. There never was a suicidal Ronald Opus, a feuding, shotgun-wielding older couple, or an increasingly confused medical examiner trying to get to the bottom of things. But there is some truth to it, for there is a Don Harper Mills, and he did tell this very story at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.
Here's how Mills explained his involvement with the story in a 1997 interview:
quote:

I made up the story in 1987 to present at the meeting, for entertainment and to illustrate how if you alter a few small facts you greatly alter the legal consequences. In 1994 someone copied it on to the Internet. I was told it had already garnered 200,000 enquiries on the Net. In the past two years I've had around 400 telephone calls about it - librarians, journalists, law students, even law professors wanting to incorporate it into text books.


It was hypothetical; just a story made up to illustrate a point. It's hard to imagine anyone at that 1987 meeting took it for anything else.
How did a 1987 illustrative anecdote morph into 1994's believed-to-be-true story? We'll likely never know. How did Dr. Mills come to concoct such a tale? As he said in a 1997 interview, "Some of it I wrote out, and some of it I invented as I went along."
Ronald Opus never lived. And his death will never die.
In 1998 we began seeing versions attributed "A true story from Associated Press, by Kurt Westervelt." If that venerable wire service employs a writer by that name, we've yet to see anything under his byline. As for AP itself having run the Opus story, no, it never did.

 

Offline Solvay_1927

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Re: Strange Death
« Reply #5 on: 10/11/2005 23:03:29 »
Awwww, I so wanted that to be a true story. You killjoy, another_someone! :)


"Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines."
« Last Edit: 10/11/2005 23:04:11 by Solvay_1927 »
 

Offline I_know_everything

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Re: Strange Death
« Reply #6 on: 03/12/2005 00:36:40 »
thats well funny. what are the chances of that? it would have been even funnier if the old man had shot his wife just when opus jumped out, and been filled with remorse immediately, so he jumped out the window to kill himself and landed on opus who was lying in the net amazed to be alive, then killed himself AND opus by landing on him.

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Re: Strange Death
« Reply #6 on: 03/12/2005 00:36:40 »

 

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