Tuesday, January 13, 2015

ISDP: The 2014 Norman Bates Award

There was not much new to report for the past month. A sheriff’s deputy sent to evict a tenant found a foul-smelling corpse instead, the woman who won the contents of an abandoned storage unit at auction discovered inside it the malodorous remains of two infants in a plastic bag, and a person strolling in a park near Dallas’s Love Field spotted some bad-smelling human remains in a drainage ditch. In none of these case were the remains discovered based on smell, and therefore they all fail to qualify as ISDP incidents. Rules are rules, people.

In contrast to the lack of new ISDP cases, we have a bumper crop of candidates for the Norman Bates Award™. The nominees are:

Doris Kirby, the 78-year-old woman in Decatur, Alabama who lived for a month in a home with the body of her husband who had died of natural causes.

Terry Cunningham, 44, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, who lived in appalling conditions in a house with his two daughters, wheel-chair bound son, and his older brother for several days after his brother’s death.

Ray Tomlinson, 62, of Clinton Township, Michigan drove to Michigan from Glendale, Arizona in a van with his 92-year-old wheelchair-bound mother and the body of a 31-year-old woman who died shortly after they left Glendale. Mr. Tomlinson kept on driving under the impression that he had 48 hours to turn in the body. Meanwhile, the van’s AC failed and his mother was not able to use a restroom.

Chava Spira, 28 years old, of Borough Park, Brooklyn, who lived for months in a trash-stuffed apartment with the remains of her 61-year-old mother, Susie Rosenthal. Ms. Spira and her mother were recluses and Ms. Spira was known for screaming incoherently into the building’s courtyard.

Mr. and Mrs. Jarrod Tutko of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The couple had six children ranging in age from three to thirteen, “several of whom suffer from serious medical conditions, including one who is deaf.” When a son died in the third floor room to which he was confined, his father waited several days before bringing the body downstairs and informing his wife.

Ila Solomon of Lafayette, Indiana, lived for about ten months in a house with the body of her dead husband, while allegedly collecting his Social Security and VA payments.

The six family members and seven live-in fellow cultists who lived for six months with the body of a 52-year-old Hamilton, Ontario, man sealed in an upstairs bedroom. They were praying for his resurrection.

We also have three nominees from the Overseas Division:

Harish Badhai, 55, a former air force officer from Shastri Nagar, Meerut, India, lived for about a month with the body of his older brother Harendra Badhai, a former doctor.

The man in Alexandria, Egypt, who killed his brother nine years ago and kept the body in a freezer. It was discovered after a power outage led to decomposition and foul odor.

The 55-year-old woman in Munich, Germany who shared a bed for five years with the mummified remains of her 83-year-old mother.

Wow. It was not easy to pick a single winner from such a diverse and promising bunch. But pick we must. Here’s some insight into our decision process. Mrs. Kirby’s bid is undercut by the fact that she suffers from Alzheimer’s disease; in addition to fogging her memory about her husband’s demise, it might have made her less able to smell its consequences. Mr. Cunningham’s home was in such a degraded shambles that living for two days with the remains of his brother barely registered on the grotesquery scale. Likewise, the Tutkos of Harrisburg lived amid conditions so bizarre as to overshadow their Batesian achievements. The anonymous Egyptian freezer owner didn’t live with the deceased as much as store him away out of sight and smell. The cult in Ontario had their (perhaps delusional) reasons for waiting around. All these nominees are easily dismissed.

That leaves some outstanding finalists: Ray Tomlinson for his cross country drive with corpse and without air conditioning; Chava Spira for her months-long trash-filled co-habitation with her mother’s remains; Ila Solomon for her venal 10-months spent collecting the government benefits of her dead husband; and the German lady from Munich who slept with her mummified mother for five years. Of these, it comes down to Chava Spira and the German lady. The fact that an aunt continued to drop off food at the apartment long after her mother passed away detracts somewhat from Ms. Spira’s bid.

And thus, after due deliberation, we present the 2014 Norman Bates Award to the anonymous 55-year-old lady from Munich, Germany. She epitomizes the spirit of Norman Bates.

Unser Glückwunsch!

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