Saturday, November 13, 2010

ISDP: Dumpsters, Cisterns, and Norman Bates


The Halloween jack-o-lanterns guarding the front door of FirstNerve manor have succumbed to dehydration and bacteria: their faces are caving in and they look like toothless old folks at a casting call for Grapes of Wrath: The Musical. No worries. Soon they’ll be hurled from the belfry in the annual smashing of pumpkins ritual.

Speaking of rituals, it’s the 13th of the month, time to pull back the dusty black velvet drapes in the third floor alcove and open the olfactory version of the Necronomicon. We turn to the chapter titled “Foul Odor”, the incantatory phrase used by the Ancient Scribes for only one dark purpose: to summon news stories of the not-so-recently deceased, whose mortal remains have been discovered by, and inhaled through, the sensitive nostrils of passersby.

We begin by announcing two entrants for the 2010 Norman Bates Award. The first nominee’s story made Drudge on October 22: “Woman drove for months with dead body in passenger seat . . .” It’s not what you think; it’s a pathos-filled story set in Southern California. Really.

A 57-year old woman from Corona del Mar (tony!), a former real estate agent, is down on her luck and living with friends. She meets a homeless woman in a park in Fountain Valley and out of kindness agrees to let the woman sleep in a 1997 Mercury Grand Marquis registered to her father. There’s enough room; after all it’s a big-ass car. Last December, however, the homeless woman expires in the vehicle and the Good Samaritan is too scared to call the authorities. Instead, she covers the body with a blanket and leaves an opened box of baking soda with it.

That might have been the end of it, but the Norman Bates-ish Good Samaritan then commits the ultimate LA offense: she leaves the car parked partially blocking a residential driveway in Costa Mesa. A no doubt outraged homeowner called the police, police “smelled a foul odor coming from the car” and soon enough discovered the DB. The deceased was eventually identified as a 59-year old with two master’s degrees and a teaching credential who had been bankrupt and itinerant for over a decade. No charges appear to have filed against the Good Samaritan.

Our second Norman Bates Award nominee made the news about the same time in October. Tenants in an apartment cluster in the Montrose area of Houston had been complaining to the property manager about a “foul odor”. 

The manager tracked the smell to apartment #2, but the tenant claimed it must be coming from a dead animal under the unit. He wouldn’t allow the manager in because, he said, “his mother was sleeping and he didn’t want to disturb her.” The next day another tenant finally called police, who got the same story from the 31-year old tenant. They persuaded him to let them inspect the apartment, where they discovered the body of the man’s 66-year-old mother in “an advanced state of decomposition.”

The property manager, on the job only since August, said he hadn’t interacted much with the young man. 
“I always thought he was just a little weird, but I never thought it would turn into something like this.”
And now for the more conventional ISDP incidents. Here’s one that just missed our October deadline: A guy walking his dog in Phoenix, Arizona notices a “foul smell” coming from an unfamiliar large trash container. He lifts the lid and finds the body of a dead woman. 
 
 A few days later in Indianapolis, Indiana, a tip phoned into Crime Stoppers led police to a house on the east side of town. Police officers noticed a “foul odor” and sent for the homicide squad, a cadaver dog, and a search warrant. As they waited, neighbors pointed officers to a fly-covered dumpster nearby where they found the body of a woman. They arrested a 28-year-old guy who had been sitting on the porch watching the show unfold. He later confessed and has been charged with the woman’s murder. 

Meanwhile, out in Tubac, Arizona, south of Tucson, a rancher noticed a “foul odor” and discovered a body buried in a shallow grave. According to the Santa Cruz County sheriff, the deceased was a 6-foot tall man in his 30s who had been shot multiple times.

Finally, in Lakeland, Florida, reports of a “foul odor” led police to a search “a wooded area behind Snavely Forest Products.” [Snavely?] They found a body in an advanced state of decomposition. The remains were later identified as those of an adult woman.
 
And finally, a false alarm in Springfield, Illinois.
Springfield police detectives and a city public works crew on Wednesday found nothing after excavating an old cistern at 1846 S. Wirt Ave. to try to pinpoint the source of a foul odor.
The smell was released when a crew demolishing a tornado-damaged house dislodged the cistern’s lid. But why the interest in an old stinky cistern?
A man who lived in the house previously has an extensive criminal record, including arrests for domestic battery and unlawful restraint in 2001, battery, driving under the influence, marijuana possession, unlawful use of a weapon, violating orders of protection and animal cruelty. Police did not say he was a suspect in anything associated with the stench at the house.
Well, better to error on the side of caution. If they’d found a body this would have been a CSI episode within weeks. The detectives and city work crew of Springfield deserve a salute for their dedication.

So cheers! Until next time.

1 comment:

Nukapai said...

I wonder if you've seen this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/31/fashion/31Unwashed.html