Thursday, January 12, 2012

ISDP January 2012: In the Closet & the Norman Bates Award

Here at FirstNerve Manor, we have a mind of winter. From the north belfry we can see “The spruces rough in the distant glitter / Of the January sun.” Indeed, this installment of ISDP spans the winter solstice, traditionally a fallow period for those episodes in which some unfortunate soul catches a whiff of foul odor and discovers the earthly remains of an even more unfortunate soul.

Keeping to statistical form, we have only one new case to report. And yet, it shares unsettling similarities to an earlier one. Back in August, we ran this item from Florida:
The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a death at a Pensacola Beach residence reported this weekend.

At about 11 a.m. Saturday, deputies responded to a report of a foul odor coming from a unit at Starboard Village condominiums on Fort Pickens Road on Pensacola Beach.

Inside the condo, deputies found a woman’s body in a state of decomposition.
In December, we learned the story behind the body in the Pensacola condo:
Charles Boshell tried to convince the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office that his girlfriend committed suicide.

But four months after Caroline Marbury-Smart’s decomposing body was found in a closet at her Pensacola Beach condo, Boshell faces a charge of murder.
Boshell was extradited from Louisiana; he is 46 years old. His alleged victim was 54.
The officers had gone to the condo after Boshell called law enforcement to say he was in North Carolina but had received a call that there was a foul odor coming from the condo.

Boshell told them that he found Marbury-Smart dead in the condo when he returned from working in Louisiana. He said she had a belt around her neck and was hanging from a ceiling fan in the master bedroom. He said he used a knife from the kitchen to cut her down.

“Boshell stated that he placed Caroline Marbury-Smart in the closet in the master bedroom and did not call the police because he was not thinking right,” according to the officers' report.
Authorities aren’t buying Boshell’s story. A report filed by police noted that the ceiling fan “showed no signs of supporting the weight of a person for a period of time.” A belt found in the bedroom by deputies had blood on it, but it had not been cut. An autopsy revealed that Marbury-Smart’s body showed no signs of hanging by the neck.
Deputies also located a friend of Marbury-Smart’s, Wanda Bosso. She told them Marbury-Smart often expressed fear of Boshell.

“Wanda, please, if you ever find me missing or dead, please tell them Charlie killed me,” Bosso reported her friend saying.
The new incident occurred near Syracuse, New York, just before New Year’s, in the town of Baldwinsville.
The Onondaga County Sheriff’s office says a woman found dead in her Baldwinsville apartment on Friday was murdered by her husband.

A maintenance worker at the Village Green Apartments discovered the body of Rebecca Dethlefs, 56, Friday after neighbors reported a foul odor coming from the apartment. Deputies say the body was decomposed and may have been there for up to a week.
In fact, the body was there when deputies visited the apartment two days earlier.
On December 28th, Sheriff’s deputies were called to the apartment because Dethlefs’ employer said she had not shown up for a couple of shifts as a traveling nurse at a hospital. At the time, neighbors indicated she may have been visiting relatives in New York City and Sheriff Walsh says deputies did not have a reason to break into the apartment.

“She works as a traveling nurse for a company out of Florida. She was working at a local hospital and hadn’t shown up for a couple of shifts,” said Sheriff Kevin Walsh.
Well, they eventually came back. According to another source,
Dethlefs’ body was found in a closet.
And here’s the creepy similarity:
Burger was sentenced to 81/3 years to life in prison in 1964. Burger stabbed the Rev. Francis McShane three times and propped the body in a sitting position in a closet in McShane’s sister’s Manhattan apartment, according to an Associated Press article from 1963.

Burger served 28 years in prison, according to Syracuse-area media outlets, and was paroled in 2007.
And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the announcement of the 2011 Norman Bates Award. The prize is given to the person or persons who has shown exemplary, if bizarre, fortitude in living in close quarters with a dead body. This year’s nominees are:
The anonymous burglars in Hartford, Connecticut, for repeatedly entering and ransacking the home of Debra Jurasus even as her remains lay rotting in the recliner where she had died.

John Clauer, of Santa Cruz, California, for spending a week in his apartment along with the remains of his girlfriend, who died under suspicious circumstances.

Twin brothers Edwin Larry Berndt and Edward Christian Berndt, of Houston, Texas, for letting their 89-year-old mother die on the floor of the foyer and then living “for three months with her decomposing, bug-infested corpse.”

Forty-three year old hoarder Ronald Opilka, of Chicago, for living in a town house with his 80-year-old mother Cecylia Opilka, also a hoarder, who had expired days earlier. Her body was found when neighbors called police to complain about a foul odor.

Patrick Lara, 45, of Merced, California, for failing to call for medical assistance when his uncle injured himself and died, and then living with the moldy body for 30 days while using his uncle’s credit card to run up gambling debts.

With so many outstanding nominees, this year’s selection process was difficult. On the basis of family values, the field narrows to the Berndt twins, Mr. Opilka, and Mr. Lara. And while all are deserving of recognition, Edwin and Edward Berndt take the cake. They’ve proved that it’s not just weirdo loners who have the massive olfactory denial needed to pull off a Bates-worthy co-habitation. Congratulation to the Berndt boys!

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