September 29, 2014

Raymond Alan "Big Al" Brownley RIP

A wonderful obituary in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for Big Al.

RAYMOND ALAN "BIG AL" BROWNLEY, December 30, 1931 - September 21, 2014

Affectionately known as Big Al by his family and many friends, he was a plumber by trade, a tremendous gardener and avid hunter. He also enjoyed fishing and proudly displayed the stuffed barracuda he caught back in 1965, much to the dismay of his wife, Agnes Bargo Brownley, to whom he was married to for 24 years.

He despised canned cranberry sauce, wearing shorts, cigarette butts in his driveway, oatmeal, loud-mouth know-it-alls, Tabasco sauce, reality TV shows, and anything to do with the Kardashians.

But Big Al had many loves, too. He loved his wife, Agnes Bargo Brownley, who preceded him in death in 1990. He also dearly loved his children and grandchildren. Famously opinionated and short-tempered, Big Al handed these qualities down to his daughter, Jill Ann Brownley of Phoenix, Arizona, a sharp-tongued character in her own right. Attending trade school to be a plumber instead of going to college, Big Al's strong work ethic and keen sense of wisely saving and investing his money live on with his son, Jeffrey Allen Brownley (Jill Shafranek Brownley), of New York. He took extreme pride in his two adorable grandchildren Derek Brownley (5) and Alexis Brownley (3), who affectionately called him Grandpa Al. He also loved milk shakes, fried shrimp, the Steelers, the Playboy channel, Silky's Gentlemens Club, taking afternoon naps in his recliner, hanging out at the VFW, playing poker, eating jelly beans by the handful, and his hunting dogs-his favorite being Holly Hill Rip Van Winkle, a loyal beagle that answered to the nickname of Rip.

Big Al was world-renowned for his lack of patience, not holding back his opinion, and a knack for telling it like it is. He was highly proficient at cursing. He liked four-letter words just about as much as four-wheel drive pick-up trucks. He was a connoisseur of banana cream pie and a firm believer that ham sandwiches should only be served on Mancini's bread. He always told you the truth, even if it wasn't what you wanted to hear. He was generous to a fault, a pussy cat at heart, and yet he sugar-coated absolutely nothing. To quote Winston Churchill: "He was a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma."

His fondness of spaghetti Westerns was only surpassed by his love of bacon, beer and butter pecan ice cream. He fondly reminisced about good friends, good drinks and good times at the Tri-Valley Sportsmens Club in Burgettstown. He was a long-time member of the Elks Club in McKees Rocks where he frequently bartended and generously donated his tips to charity. Quite a teller of tales, Big Al's elaborate stories often were punctuated with the phrase, "And that's when I kicked his ass." He enjoyed outlaw country music: Waylon, Willie, Hank, Johnny. He was also on a first-name basis with the Four Horsemen of liquor: Jack, Jim, Johnnie and Jose.

Big Al had strong beliefs in which he never waivered: dog shit makes the best garden fertilizer; Heinz ketchup does not belong on a hotdog; and PennDOT should be embarrassed of the never-ending construction, detours and potholes on Route 28.

With his love for gardening and passion for hunting, Big Al was locally sourcing his food for decades long before it was the "in thing" to do. While a necessity in his youth growing up during the Depression, this passion for being self-sufficient was carried throughout his whole life. This Depression baby was ahead of his time with "being green," as evidenced by the approximately 87 "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" containers stacked neatly in his kitchen cupboard. The biggest challenge was actually finding the butter in his refrigerator with 13 containers of leftovers that all looked the same.

Big Al was known for his timeless words of wisdom, including "Life is hard; but it's harder if you're stupid" and "Don't be a jackass." He had a life-long ménage a trois with his homemade chili and Gas-X. He had a great fondness for sardines on crackers, stuffed cabbage (which he lovingly called hunky hand grenades), making turtle soup, and eating BLTs. And his famous holiday eggnog had enough whiskey to grow hair on your chest.

Also known as the Squirrel Whisperer, he communicated with the local red-tailed squirrels and fed them peanuts out of his hand. He took pride in his time served in the Navy on the USS San Marcos during the Korean War, often waxing nostalgia that the worst meal he'd ever eaten was Shit on a Shingle (creamed chipped beef on toast). His mantra of a girl in every port often led to a fight in every port. With a stink eye towards organized religion, Big Al was more spiritual than religious and enjoyed reading the Bible before bed each night and watching "church on TV" every Sunday morning.

What he lacked in stature, he compensated with an over-abundance of charisma, charm and feistiness. Big Al took fashion advice from no one. With his trademark white, v-neck t-shirts and strategically coiffed comb-over, his comfort far outweighed any interest in the latest fashion trends. He was well-stocked with white shoe polish to keep his tennis shoes looking pristine for prime rib dinners at Longhorn Steakhouse.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:50 AM | Permalink
Categories: Last Words, Obits, Eulogies and Epitaphs

"'Buried alive by accident and died before she could be rescued'

Greek woman 'buried alive by accident and died before she could be rescued'

Police in northern Greece are investigating a cemetery worker's testimony that a woman was buried alive and cried for help from her grave - only to die before being rescued.

The man and two visitors to the cemetery told police officials that they heard banging and muffled shouts from inside the 49-year-old cancer patient's grave late yesterday, an hour after her funeral.

By the time the coffin was dug up and smashed open, the woman showed no further signs of life. A doctor summoned to Peraia cemetery outside Thessaloniki pronounced her dead

The mother of two had been first declared dead at a private Thessaloniki clinic earlier the same day. A coroner will examine the body.

A doctor who examined the woman's body claimed that she could not have been buried alive, and had been dead for hours.

I just don't believe it,' Chrissi Matsikoudi told Greek television channel MEGA. 'We did several tests including one for heart failure on the body.'She added that 'someone in a state of rigor mortis' could not have been 'shouting and hitting the coffin like that'

The dead woman's relatives are considering filing a complaint against the doctors who treated her at the cancer clinic.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:43 AM | Permalink
Categories: Cemeteries and graves

Kissing corpses and Ebola

Kissing corpses is helping spread Ebola

Peter Piot, the director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said worsening conditions in West Africa contribute to a “perfect storm,” including a growing population, decades of civil war, widespread government corruption, dysfunctional health systems and a growing distrust in Western medicine.

Piot, who in 1976 co-discovered the Democratic Republic of Congo’s first case of Ebola, said traditional cultural and religious beliefs in parts of Africa help spread the virus.

“There are very strong traditional beliefs and traditional funeral rites which require that the whole family touch the dead body,” he said in an interview, “and they have a meal in the presence of the dead body.”
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Churches across the region have been closed or have altered some worship rites, including shared Communion, in a bid to stop the spread of the disease

Pascal Emmanuel Gobry writes about the Christian tradition of  Kissing Corpses

If you have loved ones who die, it is particularly helpful to have the children kiss the corpse. When my grandfather died, the body lay in state in his home office for a couple days, and we each bid our goodbyes–with a kiss. The kiss is essential, because nothing drives home better, at a deep, bone-level, the reality of the death of the loved one. And grasping this reality is very helpful to the grieving process. (Actually, one of my aunts wouldn’t let her small children see the corpse. So of course the kids had nightmares about the mysterious corpse in the other room. The other kids didn’t.)

And the kiss also robs death of its magic. The evolution of the species has bred in us an instinctive holy terror of corpses–but death has been vanquished by Christ, and Christians have no fear of death. To kiss a corpse is to get over, and proclaim that one has gotten over, this natural instinct, that one has defeated it, by the grace of the Paraclete sent by the Risen Christ. It simultaneously shows love of the loved one and the casual indifference to death that marks out the believing Christian. A corpse is, at best, a kind of icon, and icons are kissed.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:36 AM | Permalink
Categories: Death and Dying

Stealing from dying patients

Fake doctor who snuck on to cancer wards to steal from the bedsides of dying hospital patients is jailed for seven years

A woman who posed as a hospital doctor to steal from the bedsides of ill and dying patients was jailed for seven years today.
June Weatherman stole from elderly cancer patients, mostly aged in the eighties, taking their bank cards before withdrawing thousands of pounds from their accounts.

When she was arrested she tried to claim she was only being targeted because she was mixed race, but was ultimately convicted of 15 charges of theft and fraud at Guilford Crown Court.

Prosecuter Ruby Selva said that Weatherman, 50, had stalked the corridors of hospitals across the South of England looking for opportunities to steal handbags and wallets.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:57 AM | Permalink
Categories: Dead used for propaganda or profit | Categories: Death and Dying

September 27, 2014

Parting words after practical joke turns painful

Parting Words

The 2007 funeral of Amir Vehabović was poorly attended — 46 people had been invited to the ceremony, but only his mother turned up.  The other 45 received this letter:

To all my dear ‘friends,’

Some of you I have known since early school days, others I have only forged a relationship with in the last few years. Until my ‘funeral,’ I considered all of you close friends. So it was with shock and, I admit, sadness and anger that I realized not one of you managed to find the time to come and say goodbye to me when you heard I was to be buried. I would have understood if just some of you came, bearing flowers or words of apology from others who could not make it. But no. Not a single one of you turned up to pay your last respects. I lived for our friendships. They meant as much to me as life itself. But how easy it was for you all to forget the pledges of undying friendship I heard on so many occasions. How different our ideas of friendship seem to be. I paid a lot of money to get a fake death certificate and to bribe undertakers to handle an empty coffin. I thought my funeral would be a good joke — the kind of prank we have all played on one another over the years. Now I have just one last message for you: my ‘funeral’ might have been staged, but you might as well consider me dead, because I will not be seeing any of you again.

Amir should read about Francis J Moriarty better known as "Turk"  who threw himself a funeral every year

It was always an affair to remember.

''We made a plywood coffin we'd strap to the top of Billy Hunt's '66 Rambler American -- the car was worth about six cents -- and we'd drive to the cemetery," recalls Richie Polin, a friend of Turk. ''We'd put the bottles on top of the grave -- the headstone was already there. There'd be maybe a hundred of us. Turk would watch from a distance to see who came."

Some of the women who attended actually cried, despite the fact they knew Turk was lurking nearby. (According to Polin, Turk was a bank robber who did hard time for this pastime, later an employee of the Boston Housing Authority, and a poet whose talent was inversely proportional to the amount of bourbon he consumed.)

The whole motley crew would then repair to the now-defunct Sydney's on Green Street in Jamaica Plain -- a bar so named for the leviathan actor Sydney Greenstreet -- to continue the festivities. Perpetual gadfly Dapper O'Neil called the rite ''a most impressive ceremony," according to Jerry Burke.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:45 PM | Permalink
Categories: Funerals, Burials and Cremations

September 22, 2014

Grave fashion

In Egypt.  3,000-year-old remains of woman unearthed with 70 hair extensions tied in intricate layers

The skull was one of hundreds found in the ancient city of Amarna, many of which had their final hairstyles incredibly well-preserved using fat….Some of the skulls shows evidence of a dye, possibly henna, used on hair.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:12 AM | Permalink
Categories: Cemeteries and graves | Categories: Funerals, Burials and Cremations

September 19, 2014

Further down the slippery slope

In Belgium.  Doctor Kills Depressed Woman in Euthanasia, Doesn’t Tell Family Until Next Day

Oncologist Wim Distelmans killed Godelieva De Troyer, a Belgium citizen who was not terminally ill, because of “untreatable depression” in April 2012 after receiving consent from three other physicians who had no previous involvement with her care…..Distelmans has no psychiatric qualifications, and none of the doctors involved had any enduring doctor-patient relationship with De Troyer. … In addition, the commission the government established to investigate any failure to observe the euthanasia law has been led, since its creation, by Distelmans. Despite evidence of widespread abuse of the law, the commission has never referred a case to the prosecutor.

No one contacted Mortier before his mother’s death despite the fact that he says her depression was not only largely the result of a break-up with a man, but also due to her feelings of distance from her family.

Her son Tom Mortier is now challenging Belgium's euthanasia laws which also allow children to be killed.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights Wednesday on behalf of Tom Mortier,

“The government has an obligation to protect life, not assist in promoting death,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Robert Clarke. “A person can claim that she should be able to do whatever she pleases, but that does not override the government’s responsibility to protect the weak and vulnerable. We are encouraging the European Court to uphold this principle, which is completely consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:04 AM | Permalink
Categories: Euthanasia

The Weight of Honor

Monsignor Charles Pope: What is Honor? Today, I Felt its Weight

This morning, I celebrated one of the most remarkable funerals of my 25 years as a priest. With the body present, I sang a Requiem Mass for a man who died ten years before I was born.

On January 1, 1951, Private First Class Arthur Richardson of A Company, 1st Battalion, 19th Infantry Regiment, 24th Infantry Division went north with his platoon into what is now North Korea. The platoon was overtaken by a much larger group of North Korean soldiers and he was taken prisoner. This was the last that was heard of Pfc. Arthur Richardson. It was reported to his wife later that month that he was missing in action. In 1954, he was declared Killed in Action, though his body was not recovered and no definitive word had been received about him. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star.

It now seems certain that he died in or near a Prisoner of War camp in Suan since his remains were returned by North Korea in 1994, along with those of as many as 800 other soldiers from that region. After years of painstaking work, the U.S. Army was recently able to definitively identify his remains using DNA evidence, and informed his family.

The family asked me if I would offer the old Latin Requiem Mass for him since this was the only form of the Mass he had ever known. And so this morning I had the great privilege of celebrating a Missa Cantata Requiem Mass.

The burial that followed at Arlington was with full military honors…

What is honor? The full etymology of the word is debated. But what seems most likely is that it comes from the Latin word honos, which, though translated as “honor,” also points to the word “onus,” which means “weight” or refers to something that is heavy. Hence, to “honor” someone is to appreciate the weight, significance, or burden of something he has done. It is to acknowledge that he carried a great burden well, that he withstood a heavy load, that what he did was weighty, significant……

War remains controversial (as it should). But soldiers do not create the politics they are sent to address. They are simply told that there is a danger to be addressed, an injustice to be ended, and so they go. Private First Class Arthur Richardson went north during the Korean War. He did not return to us. But he carried well the great weight of being a solider. He also carried the weight of collective human sinfulness (which is what brings war) and felt its burden keenly. He gave his life.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:50 AM | Permalink
Categories: Funerals, Burials and Cremations

Old graves from 700, 2400 and 4500 years ago yield secrets

Hand in hand for 700 years: Two skeletons with arms entwined are unearthed in Leicestershire's mysterious 'lost chapel'

A couple who have been holding hands for 700 years have been uncovered at a 'lost' chapel in Leicestershire.
The centuries-old skeletons were unearthed at the Chapel of St Morrell, a site of pilgrimage in Hallaton during the 14th Century.

 14Th Century-Skeletons-Holdinghands-1

The excavations found the walls and tiled floor of the chapel as well as fragments of the stone masonry, tiles and lead from the windows.

A number of silver pennies dating from between the 11th - 15th centuries have also been found on the site indicating when the chapel was in use.

Why people were buried at the Chapel rather than in the main church in the village is unknown but it is possible that this was a special place of burial perhaps for pilgrims.

Historian William Burton mentions in 1641 that ‘Halloughton…a place of special holiness (the etymon of the name importing as much as Holy-town) so as sick folks did use to flock thither to die’.

What lies beyond the third chamber? Archaeologists move further inside Alexander the Great era tomb - but will it collapse?

Access to the third chamber was made possible after experts unearthed two sculpted female figures, known as Caryatids, last week.  By removing a large volume of soil, behind the wall bearing the two sculpted female figures, they were able to uncover the next chamber.  Until now, experts had only partially investigated the antechamber of the tomb and uncovered a marble wall concealing one or more inner chambers.

Experts believe the ancient mound, situated around 65 miles from Thessaloniki, was built for a prominent Macedonian in around 300 to 325BC. …. Before the discovery of the Caryatids, it was feared the ‘incredibly important’ tomb dating to the time of Alexander the Great had been plundered in antiquity.
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Archaeologist said that a hole in the decorated wall, and signs of forced entry, indicated it had been looted. But the discovery of the female sculptures gave fresh hope that some treasure may have survived, after all.  The face of one of the Caryatids is missing but both have one hand outstretched to push away tomb raiders

The Caryatids are made of marble and support an inner entrance into the tomb. They feature the same sculpting technique used for the heads and wings of two sphinxes found guarding the main entrance of the tomb last month.
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Archaeologists have said that the Amphipolis site appears to be the largest ancient tomb ever discovered in Greece at 1,935ft  wide.  Last month, pictures emerged of a pair of sphinxes guarding the grave's main entrance beneath a large arch and experts said that most of the earth around the mythical creatures had been removed to reveal part of a marble lintel with frescoes.

Chief archaeologist Katerina Peristeri said that the monument being uncovered is a unique tomb, not just for Greece but for the entire Balkanic peninsula, and described it as being of ‘global interest’.

 Alexander's Tomb?

Neolithic necropolis with 20 monumental tombs found in France

Dating to around 4,500 B.C., the tombs are of the Passy kind, named after the municipality in Burgundy 70 miles southeast of Paris where the these long funerary structures were found and radiocarbon dated for the first time.
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The Fleury-sur-Orne monuments range in length from 40 feet to 985 feet and are enclosed on both sides by ditches 8 inches to 50 feet wide. The ditches may have contained palisades made from trees felled by stone adzes. The earth from the ditches was piled up in the center of the structure forming a mound that housed one or more graves of important people. Many of these mounds have eroded away or been destroyed by agriculture, development or war. One of the 20 structures excavated at Fleury, however, is intact and in excellent condition. The original walls of stacked grass turf are extant if somewhat reduced. Archaeologists believe they were at least six and a half feet high originally.
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In one of the tombs, 200-foot-long Monument 19, archaeologists found a single grave of a man buried with an impressive seven sheep. A grave in Monument 26 was found to contain a pelvis with a sharp arrowhead embedded in it.
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We don’t now a great deal about the people who built Passy-type funerary monuments. They were the descendants of the Danubian culture, first agrarian society in central and eastern Europe who migrated to France in around 5,500 B.C. and mixed with the local hunter-gatherers to produce the monument-builders known as the Cerny culture. These monumental necropolises were the first of their kind, not just in Europe but anywhere that we know of, predating the pyramids of Egypt by thousands of years.
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Since they required an exceptional amount of labour to benefit very few people, they may be indications of a burgeoning hierarchical society, but it’s unlikely that it would have been so developed as to have a massive captive workforce. This was a community effort, and it’s possible therefore that the monuments served a community purpose as well, perhaps as a locus of religious rituals and/or feasts.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:43 AM | Permalink
Categories: Cemeteries and graves

September 17, 2014

"Love story worthy of a Hollywood script" "

'I can't live without him': Last words of wife, 97, who 'died of a broken heart' just hours after her husband of 76 years passed away

It is a love story worthy of a Hollywood script.  A devoted couple who were inseparable for more than seven decades of marriage have died within hours of each other – on their 76th wedding anniversary.

War hero Clifford Hartland passed away on July 29 at the age of 101 and his 97-year-old wife Marjorie followed him 14 hours later.

 Clifford+Marjorie Hartland
Their daughter Christine said her mother had 'died of a broken heart'.  A frail Clifford passed away at Saint Martin's Rest Home in Coventry hours after his wife was discharged from hospital with a broken leg.  'We think he was waiting for her to come back to the room they shared before he died,' said Christine.

'Afterwards, Mum just kept saying, 'I can't live without him'. That night, Mum rang me.  'She was upset and I told her to think about all the happy times they'd shared in their marriage while she drifted off to sleep.  'She died at 1am, and I like to think that's exactly what she was doing.

'It's a perfect love story. I'm devastated they're gone but so happy for them - they've never really had to live without one another.'
The couple fell met in Cardiff before the war and married soon after in 1938.

But their love story was soon dealt a blow when Clifford, a gunner in the 7th Coast Regiment Royal Artillery, was sent to Singapore on October 1, 1941. When his regiment surrendered to the Japanese in 1942, Clifford was one of four survivors and he was forced to work as a prisoner of war on the infamous Thailand-Burma railway line.  Conditions were brutal, and 13,000 prisoners died and were buried along the route.

An 11-stone young man when he left Liverpool Dock, Clifford weighed a pitiful five stone when he returned.  Clifford and Marjorie's daughter Christine, 67, said: 'I don't know how Dad survived - mainly luck and determination, I think. There were 700 men in his regiment when they went out, but only four ever came back. Dad was the last to die from his regiment.

'But every day, on her way to work, Mum would go into the church she passed and pray that Dad would come home. She lived without him for four years, but she never believed he was dead.'  Clifford had been mercilessly tortured, starved, and worked to the brink of death by the Japanese.  He was forced to trek for miles each day through leech-filled swamps.
Mother-of-two Christine said her father had once been caught smoking banana leaves in one of the 15 prison camps he had been sent to.  The Japanese officer who discovered him pushed a poisoned bamboo shoot through his leg, leaving a lifelong scar.
Last year, Clifford said: 'The worst thing was when we had to dig our own graves. We were due to be shot on the day the war ended.

'Then the 'all-clear' sounded. You can guess how I felt.' Clifford came home to a street party in Cardiff, and even a letter of thanks from the King. But his wife's welcome was the most treasured of all.

The war hero was discharged from the army in 1945, and Christine - the couple's only child - was born a year later.
The family moved to Hipswell Highway in Wyken, Coventry in 1947, and Clifford worked for Morris Engines as a factory foreman until he retired. Christine said: 'Dad was in hospital for a while after he came back from Burma, but neither of them cared. They were just so happy to be together again.

'They had an incredible marriage. They never, ever argued. Dad idolised Mum and she adored him.
'When they'd go to a restaurant, Dad would eat the same thing that Mum ordered.
'They loved dancing together, and they loved singing, too. Dad had been a choirboy at Gloucester Cathedral.'
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:41 PM | Permalink
Categories: Great Legacies | Categories: Last Words, Obits, Eulogies and Epitaphs

King Richard III hacked to death in War of Roses, Game of Thrones

The remains of King Richard III, lost  for over 500 years until 2012 when archeologists using  ground-penetrating radar found them under a car park in the central English city of Leicester have now undergone forensic examination.

The University of Leicester, relying on mitochondrial DNA evidence, soil analysis, dental tests and the physical characteristics of the skeleton, confirmed 'beyond a reasonable doubt' that the remains were those of King Richard III.

From Wikipedia Richard III (2 October 1452 – 22 August 1485) was King of England for two years, from 1483 until his death in 1485 in the Battle of Bosworth Field.  He was the last king of the House of York and the last of the Plantagenet dynasty. His defeat at Bosworth Field, the last decisive battle of the Wars of the Roses, symbolizes the end of the Middle Ages in England. He is the subject of the play Richard III by William Shakespeare.
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After his death, Richard's image was tarnished by propaganda fostered by his Tudor successors (who sought to legitimize their claim to the throne),culminating in the famous portrayal of him in Shakespeare's play Richard III as a physically deformed machiavellian villain, albeit courageous and witty, cheerfully committing numerous murders in order to claw his way to power. 

The phrases "The winter of our discontent" and "My kingdom for a horse" both come from Shakespeare's play. 

Richard III's brutal last moments revealed: Forensics show how doomed king was hacked to death by 11 blows after losing his helmet (and his horse) in the Battle of Bosworth

Richard III was surrounded by soldiers and hacked to death after losing his helmet in battle, analysis of his remains suggests.

Medical scanners were used to establish that the king suffered 11 injuries from enemy soldiers at Bosworth Field in 1485.  The 32-year-old died after two blows to the back of his head – one from a sword and the other from a halberd, a medieval axe-like weapon.

 King Richard Iii Forensics

As nine of the injuries were to his skull, researchers at Leicester University suggest he had lost his heavy helmet.
The two other injuries may have been inflicted after his armour was torn from his body.  Wounds to his buttocks probably came as his bloodied corpse was paraded around the battle ground, they suggest.

The medical evidence establishes the most detailed account of Richard III’s death ever attempted and is published today in the Lancet medical journal.

His successor was Henry VII, the first Tudor king who won his throne by defeating King Richard III with the support of a small force of French and Scottish that increased his forces to about 5000.  His victory effectively ended the War of the Roses between the Houses of Lancaster and York.  Henry's marriage to Elizabeth of York united the warring houses and his symbol became the Tudor rose.

Tudor Rose The Tudor Rose is a combination of the Red Rose of Lancaster and the White Rose of York.

The widely popular Game of Thrones is based loosely on the Wars of the Roses

The war between the Starks and the Lannisters also bears stark similarities to the Wars of the Roses between the English houses of Lancaster and York between 1455 and 1487.

Like the Starks, the House of York were northerners, like the Lannisters the House of Lancaster were southerners and extremely wealthy.

 Stannis Baratheon Stannis, brother of Robert Baratheon, was unfaltering in his loyalty to the King while he was alive, but after Robert's death, declared his own nephews illegitimate and tried to seize the throne for himself using some fairly controversial tactics.

Richard III, brother of King Edward IV, was also loyal up until the point of the King's death, upon which he declared his own nephews illegitimate, and succeeded to the throne after their 'disappearance'.

The counterpart to Henry Tudor?  Daenerys Targaryen. 
 Daenerys Targaryen-1

Henry Tudor, later Henry VII, took the throne from Richard III after crossing the channel with a foreign army in tow, marching through his birthplace and recruiting more troops along the way.
For many years before that, however, he lived a life of exile in France while chaos slowly spread in England, waiting for the perfect moment to seize his opportunity.

Not a little unlike Daenerys, who has been slowly amassing a huge army across the Narrow Sea (read: the English Channel) while plotting to invade her birthplace, rallying the loyal to her cause as she goes.

You can read lots more about the History Behind the Game of Thrones here with many contributions by noted historians

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:44 PM | Permalink
Categories: Autopsies | Categories: Cemeteries and graves | Categories: Memory, Memorials

September 16, 2014

Killer found - Jack the Ripper identified through DNA

Jack the Ripper unmasked: How amateur sleuth used DNA breakthrough to identify Britain's most notorious criminal 126 years after string of terrible murders

 Suspects Jack The Ripper


 The Suspects Jack Ripper


DNA evidence has now  shown beyond reasonable doubt which one of six key suspects commonly cited in connection with the Ripper’s reign of terror was the actual killer …..

A shawl found by the body of Catherine Eddowes, one of the Ripper’s victims, has been analysed and found to contain DNA from her blood as well as DNA from the killer.

The landmark discovery was made after businessman Russell Edwards, 48, bought the shawl at auction and enlisted the help of Dr Jari Louhelainen, a world-renowned expert in analysing genetic evidence from historical crime scenes.  Using cutting-edge techniques, Dr Louhelainen was able to extract 126-year-old DNA from the material and compare it to DNA from descendants of Eddowes and the suspect, with both proving a perfect match.

The revelation puts an end to the fevered speculation over the Ripper’s identity which has lasted since his murderous rampage in the most impoverished and dangerous streets of London.
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Jack the Ripper has been identified as Polish-born Aaron Kosminski who was a suspect when the Ripper murders took place in 1888
Hairdresser Kosminski lived in Whitechapel and was later put in an asylum
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:18 PM | Permalink
Categories: Genealogy, DNA testing

Evicted from their own graves

Mummified corpses removed from crypts after relatives can no longer afford fees in Guatemala

Armed only with a sledgehammer and mask to cover his mouth and nose, a Guatemalan grave-cleaner begins the wretched task of smashing open a crypt and removing whatever rank remains lurk inside.

 Sledgehammer To Tombs

A human skull with thick hair still clinging to it is pulled from one of the dark tombs, a miniature baby coffin, adorned with a white flower, from another. 

 Baby Exhumation

The men are removing the dead whose families can no longer afford the luxury of a private crypt and as soon as a lease on a grave expires, the cleaners will come and free up the space for a new paying customer.

Any remains that are not claimed will be stuffed into plastic bags, labelled and sent to a mass grave to be reburied.
Most of the corpses excavated are largely decomposed, but those that were laid to rest in the upper crypts, where conditions are hot and dry, become mummified.

As the team of grave-cleaners go to work in Guatemala City, their manner hardly appears different to laborers on a building site or workers at a recycling centre.

Bags of broken corpses are tossed into heaps like piles of garbage and transported on forklift trucks with the clothes they were buried in still on their backs.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:13 PM | Permalink
Categories: Cemeteries and graves

Unclaimed in morgue, 13 veterans laid to rest with full honors

Joseph Bottum wrote "The fundamental pattern for any community is a congregation at a funeral" and  "A healthy society requires a lively sense of the reality and continuing presence of the dead."

If what he said is true, and I believe it is, the following story is a sign of the recovery of Detroit.  While it is truly sad to think of any veteran dying alone and unloved, t's a truly moving sight to learn how a community coalition sprang up to insure that these 13 veterans would have a proper burial.

They served their country but died alone: 13 military veterans who lay unclaimed in morgue for up to three years are finally laid to rest with full honors

The unclaimed bodies of 13 military veterans were finally laid to rest in side-by-side plots following a poignant 60-mile funeral procession yesterday. The dead soldiers, seven of whom served in Vietnam, were driven from a morgue in Detroit to Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly Township, Michigan - their hearses flanked by state troopers on motorbikes.

 Thirteen Flag Draped Cask Detroit


All of the men died alone in the last three years, but tragically, their remains were left unclaimed at the Wayne County medical examiner's office. While some fought in Vietnam, others served as far back as the 1950s - with at least one going to fight in the Korean War.
The veterans were identified by the Missing in America Project, who 'locate and inter the unclaimed remains of American veterans through the joint efforts of private, state and federal organizations'. 

Sadly, they were among 200 unclaimed bodies from the same morgue, which have all now been buried - as the county could not bear the cost of holding on to them.
--
Of the 13 who were laid to rest with full military honors, only one - Vietnam-era veteran Roland Dukes - had a family member present who received a flag from the casket.  Shimeca Jackson, Mr Dukes' niece, said: 'We appreciate them honoring him. A lot of time has passed by. It was a beautiful ceremony.'
__
David Techner, funeral director of the Ira Kaufman Chapel in Southfield and a member of the coalition responsible for the burials, said having 'hundreds of bodies stacked up in the morgue' will never happen again.

He stated that the group have come up with 'Initiative 91', which calls for the coalition to step in and either bury or cremate a body that is not claimed within 90 days…..The Jewish Fund played a key role in coordinating the burials. T
heir chairman, Dr. Richard Krugel, said: 'This brings to an end a very tragic time in our community,'

May they rest in peace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:11 PM | Permalink
Categories: Funerals, Burials and Cremations

Evicted from their own graves

Mummified corpses removed from crypts after relatives can no longer afford fees in Guatemala

Armed only with a sledgehammer and mask to cover his mouth and nose, a Guatemalan grave-cleaner begins the wretched task of smashing open a crypt and removing whatever rank remains lurk inside.


 Sledgehammer To Tombs

A human skull with thick hair still clinging to it is pulled from one of the dark tombs, a miniature baby coffin, adorned with a white flower, from another. 

 Baby Exhumation

The men are removing the dead whose families can no longer afford the luxury of a private crypt and as soon as a lease on a grave expires, the cleaners will come and free up the space for a new paying customer.

Any remains that are not claimed will be stuffed into plastic bags, labelled and sent to a mass grave to be reburied.
Most of the corpses excavated are largely decomposed, but those that were laid to rest in the upper crypts, where conditions are hot and dry, become mummified.

As the team of grave-cleaners go to work in Guatemala City, their manner hardly appears different to labourers on a building site or workers at a recycling centre.

Bags of broken corpses are tossed into heaps like piles of garbage and transported on forklift trucks with the clothes they were buried in still on their backs.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:16 AM | Permalink
Categories: Cemeteries and graves

Forced to clean the house for her own wake

Palestinian mum kills 16-year-old daughter over fake affair

A  Palestinian mother waited for her 16-year-old daughter to go to bed, tied a rope around her neck and strangled her to death. The woman murdered her own daughter after neighbors lied to her that the girl had an affair with their son.

Residents, who spoke to the Palestinian Arabic language daily Donia Al Watan, said the mother had already been cruel to her daughter as she used to force her to do all household work because she does not like female offspring.

It was this cruelty that made her rush and murder the girl without bothering to check if what neighbors said about her daughter was true.

“Just go and see your daughter’s pictures on my son’s mobile phone,” the neighboring woman told the mother after an argument, according to the paper.

“The mother then started her plan to kill her daughter…residents said she had made her daughter clean the house for two days so the family will be prepared to receive would-be mourners on their daughter’s death.”

After the murder, the family left the girl in her bed all the night. In the morning, they went straight to hospital and said their daughter had died of heart attack.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 6:42 AM | Permalink
Categories: Death and Dying

September 15, 2014

Man gives wife his last breath

‘True love like no other,’ Man gives wife his last breath

An elderly couple, who had been together for more than 60 years, was found dead inside their home.

Investigators say Dave Molter died trying to give his wife, Corrine, CPR; giving his wife his last breath.

They  believe Molter, 84, died while trying to do CPR on his wife Corrine, 83.  His body was found next to her in their home.
Corrine had advanced Alzheimer’s and Dave waited on her hand and foot.

Brandy Williams, the caregiver for Dave and Corrine,  broke down, talking about losing a couple she called best friends.

“Just wonderful people. I’ve never met anybody like that in my life,” said Williams.

Williams,  the caregiver for Dave and Corrine Molter, said,  "Just being there and seeing it with my own eyes, it’s like true love like no other. It’s the kind you see in movies, not the kind you see in real life,” she said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:36 AM | Permalink
Categories: Death and Dying

September 4, 2014

Further down the slippery slope

In Belgium.  Doctor Kills Depressed Woman in Euthanasia, Doesn’t Tell Family Until Next Day

Oncologist Wim Distelmans killed Godelieva De Troyer, a Belgium citizen who was not terminally ill, because of “untreatable depression” in April 2012 after receiving consent from three other physicians who had no previous involvement with her care…..Distelmans has no psychiatric qualifications, and none of the doctors involved had any enduring doctor-patient relationship with De Troyer. … In addition, the commission the government established to investigate any failure to observe the euthanasia law has been led, since its creation, by Distelmans. Despite evidence of widespread abuse of the law, the commission has never referred a case to the prosecutor.

No one contacted Mortier before his mother’s death despite the fact that he says her depression was not only largely the result of a break-up with a man, but also due to her feelings of distance from her family.

Her son Tom Mortier is now challenging Belgium's euthanasia laws which also allow children to be killed.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights Wednesday on behalf of Tom Mortier,

“The government has an obligation to protect life, not assist in promoting death,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Robert Clarke. “A person can claim that she should be able to do whatever she pleases, but that does not override the government’s responsibility to protect the weak and vulnerable. We are encouraging the European Court to uphold this principle, which is completely consistent with the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:11 PM | Permalink
Categories: Euthanasia
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As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death - Leonardo da Vinci

Dream as if you'll live forever, live as if you'll die today.-James Dean.

I would like to believe when I die that I have given myself away like a tree that sows seed every spring and never counts the loss, because it is not loss, it is adding to future life. It is the tree's way of being. Strongly rooted perhaps, but spilling out its treasure on the wind.- May Sarton

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