Monday, January 13, 2014
It’s the thirteenth of the month and time to round up the latest batch of lugubrious news stories involving foul odor and the overlooked corpse. It’s also January, which means it is awards season and time to present the 2013 Norman Bates Award™. [Was Jacqueline Bisset drunk, stoned or senile at last night’s Globes?—Ed.] [It doesn’t matter—for us she is always swimming in scuba gear and a T-shirt.]
Our news roundup is rather thin. In fact, the single item in it counts as an ISDP event only by inference. A 94-year-old woman living on a quiet street in Stockton, California evidently died of natural causes. Neither her family, who lived out of state, or her neighbors noticed her passing. Soon enough, however, burglars repeatedly broke into her home and ransacked its contents—while leaving her remains undisturbed. The case came to light when neighbors noticed that a door on the house was broken and called police. We presume that some of the burglars noticed a foul odor.
And now on to the awards program. Last year we had a robust competition with eight well-qualified nominees. We expected a bumper crop this year what with the relentless increase in anthropogenic global warming and the consequent rise in rates of bodily decomposition. Instead, it was so chilly we had nothing to report in February and we skipped the April edition altogether. During last week’s polar vortex the temperature at FirstNerve Manor dropped to 6°F. It was so cold we had to burn hundreds of pages from the IPCC report to keep warm, including a rare 1990 edition signed by Rajendra K. Pachauri.
This year we have only three nominees for the Norman Bates Award™ and we had to go all the way to Belgium for one of them. Candidate number one comes from Lakewood, New Jersey. Brian Cassidy used an ax and carpet cutter knife to kill his 61-year-old mother after an argument in the adult community where they lived, according to court records. Cassidy continued to live in the condo after his mother’s death, according to a knowledgeable source not authorized to speak on the record. His Batesian behavior was discovered by police after his mother’s concerned co-workers requested a welfare check on her behalf.
Given our famously strict standards, the demise of a University of Florida history professor didn’t quality as an ISDP event. The department chairman alerted police when the faculty realized their colleague hadn’t been seen for a week, and his body was discovered by campus police while making a wellness check. Officer Jessica Lynn Zarate noted in her report that after being admitted to the apartment by the deceased’s roommate, she “could smell a foul odor coming from upstairs.” Evidently the roommate hadn’t noticed it or didn’t think it was noteworthy and continued to inhabit the premises. The professor’s anonymous roommate is nominee number two.
Our third nominee is the Brussels widow who slept next to her husband’s mummified corpse for a year. According to a Belgian newspaper, her landlord made the macabre discovery during an eviction. Tests indicate her husband “died of natural causes a year ago.” The widow had told locals her husband, identified only as Marcel H., was away “receiving treatment.”
The professor’s anonymous roommate could have been anosmic or not home very much. And Mr. Cassidy is a solid nominee. But for sheer endurance and brazen misdirection, Madame H. of Brussels is the clear winner of the 2013 Norman Bates Award™. Félicitations!