Saturday, July 13, 2013

Double Plus Ungood

It has been a longstanding FN tradition to offer up, on the 13th of every month, a curated assemblage of incidents in which the question “What’s that smell?” is answered in the worst possible way. While the morbid punch line never varies, the setup differs in each instance. It is this variation upon a theme that presumably keeps hundreds of our readers hovering near their laptops, beginning at midnight, waiting for the new edition.

The clocklike regularity of ISDP has been a little sketchy lately, not least because there were no incidents to report in February and April. (ISDP is a temperature-dependent phenomenon.) Last month we were somewhere in the air over the South Pacific and missed the deadline (d’oh!). We make up for that here by serving up a double helping of ghoulishness.

We begin in Bessemer, Alabama, where construction workers “smelled a foul odor” which they eventually decided to investigate. They found a decomposed body.
The man was discovered in a fenced-in grassy area near an abandoned building. Authorities said the building is a popular place for homeless people.
Up in Yakima, Washington, a resident “investigating the source of a foul odor” discovered the body of a 28-year-old woman in an abandoned house on N. Fourth Avenue. She had been shot in the head.
According to [police spokesman Capt. Rod] Light, [the victim] had a history of run-ins with Yakima police in recent years and was known to belong to a group of squatters who take up residence in abandoned homes.
She was also the mother of two children.

The Bluegrass State achieves an ISDP hat trick. In Bellevue, Kentucky, the body of a 40-year-old man was found in a wooded area near the Party Source store “after police received a call regarding a foul odor in the area.” Over in Columbia, Kentucky, workers at Lindsey Wilson College “investigating complaints of a foul odor” found the body of a 24-year-old student in the back seat of his truck. An autopsy did not find evidence of foul play. And in Lexington, Kentucky, “an apartment manager went to investigate complaints of a foul odor near a dumpster” only to discover the body of a woman wrapped in plastic. It appears to be a homicide.

Police responding to a 911 call about “a foul odor” coming from an apartment in the Midwood area of Brooklyn found the weeks-old remains of a 57-year-old woman who had been beaten in the head and stabbed in the back. Her husband, who is in psychiatric care after being questioned by police, said “his wife had been casting evil spells on him.”

From the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn comes our first two-body incident, involving a couple in their mid-40s. They were speakers, therapists, and “life coaches” who hosted a WBAI radio show called “The Pursuit of Happiness.”
Neighbors recently began noticing a smell coming from their apartment, which was in an upscale neighborhood where they’d lived for 20 years. The super finally kicked the door in after they saw blood coming in through the floor.
The couple “reportedly committed suicide by placing plastic bags over their heads and inhaling helium.” More details at the New York Daily News, including this:
And while a sheet of plastic covered the door to their apartment, building workers were spraying air freshener through the halls.

“I could smell it all day yesterday,” said Elizabeth Pongo, 39, a personal trainer who lives in the next door brownstone. “At first I thought it was a dead squirrel, but it was much stronger than that.”
FN’s unhealthy obsession with ISDP began when we checked into the notorious urban legend of the “Body Under the Bed” which, as we now know, is not only not an urban legend but something that happens on a regular basis. The latest example comes from Hickory, North Carolina, where on a Thursday in June a “guest at the motel described smelling a foul odor” Not until noon the next day did someone call 911. Police found the body of a local 48-year-old woman under a bed. A 40-year-old man, also from Hickory, has been charged with first-degree murder.

The circumstances of this Orlando, Florida, case are rather complicated. The landlord of a residence with an upstairs apartment says the apartment tenant had been complaining for several days “a foul odor and flies” in the downstairs residence. The landlord demands that the 24-year-old downstairs tenant let him inspect the place. When he finally gets in, he finds the decomposing body of a 56-year-old man. The tenant claims an acquaintance was responsible for killing the man, and that he hadn’t reported it because the acquaintance threatened him. The landlord has been arrested for accessory after the fact to first-degree murder and the tenant has eluded police.

Another case with real estate complications comes from Taylorsville, Utah.
A foul odor coming from one side of a duplex led to the discovery of the body of a man who police believe had been dead for several days.

About 2:40 a.m. Monday, the owner of a duplex near 4500 South and 2400 West could smell a bad odor coming from the other half of the duplex, said Unified Police Lt. Justin Hoyal. The duplex owner thought that no one was living there because the other owner was believed to have moved out about a year ago, he said.
It is not known how long the deceased 61-year-old man had been living in his half of the duplex, which had no power or water.

In Buffalo, New York, a “neighbor reporting a foul odor” resulted in the discovery of an 18-year-old homicide victim in the backyard of a house on Fisher Street.

In Warren, Ohio, neighbors reported “a foul odor coming from the small white house at 1003 Hemlock Ave. S.W.” Inside, police found the body of a 56-year-old man who appears to have been beaten to death.
“There’s been a bad smell coming from his house for about a week now, I’d say,” explained Nathan Cox, 21, who said he moved into the house next door about five months ago.

“It’d actually been about a week since we’d seen him.”
Dude, how long does it you take to put two and two together?

In Bakersfield, California:
Clara Rivas smelled a foul odor coming from her garage and decided to clean it with the help of her boyfriend.

They began moving items around and came to a large, rolled-up rug. Rivas asked her boyfriend, Alejandro Sanchez, to move it so they could continue searching for the source of the smell.

Sanchez tried to shift the rug but couldn’t budge it. He looked in the hole at one end of the rug and could make out a shoe inside.

Sanchez hugged Rivas and ushered her out of the garage while telling her they needed to call 911 because he’d found a body.
The body was that of an 18-year-old woman who had been stabbed multiple times. Ms. Rivas’s son Eddie has been charged in the murder.

From Lakewood, New Jersey comes our first nominee for the 2013 Norman Bates Award™, Brian Cassidy.
A man used an ax and carpet cutter knife to kill his 61-year-old mother after an argument last week in the adult community where they lived, according to court records released Wednesday.

Cassidy continued to live in the condo after his mother’s death, according to a knowledgeable source not authorized to speak on the record.
What’s somewhat unusual about this case is the mother’s death was not revealed by olfactory clues, but by a police welfare check requested by co-workers who were concerned when she failed to show up for work.

In Northhampton, Massachusetts, police responding to “a report of a foul odor” discovered the body of an unidentified male in a field in the village of Florence. The body was found under a makeshift tent.

Another double discovery: In Central Falls, Rhode Island, neighbors reported “a foul odor” coming from an apartment on Sylvian Street. Inside, police found the bodies of two men who appeared to be the victims of homicide.

After being missing for more than a week, the body was a 68-year-old Alzheimer’s patient in Schenectady, New York was discovered in a wooded lot after neighbors “reported a foul odor in the area.” Foul play is not suspected.

And leaving the worst for last, we give you this report from Manchester Township, New Jersey, via the Asbury Park Press:
Rebecca Wilson’s lifeless body was decaying for weeks, surrounded by trash in a filthy Fox Street mobile home, before police came to investigate a report of a foul odor and flies on May 30.

“We know right away” what those phone calls mean, said Police Chief Brian Klimakowski, who said his officers regularly encounter the decomposing bodies of elderly residents that go undiscovered for periods of time.

But Rebecca Wilson’s case was different. The 32-year-old disabled woman depended on a wheelchair and the care of her mother, Janet Wilson, authorities said.

As Rebecca Wilson’s body rotted in the home she shared with her mother, police said Janet Wilson stayed with friends and at hotels in the area.
UPDATE July 13, 2013

Oops. Forget about this one left on my iPad during my Australia trip.

In Kirby, Texas, police responding to complaints of a foul odor coming from a unit in the Kirby Mobile Home Park found a dead body. They consider it a suspicious death.

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