Sarah Ann Henley: the suicide girl who fluttered to safety

The beautiful England’s Clifton Suspension Bridge, originally designed by the great Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, stands 101 metres above the River Avon and spans a 400-metre wide gorge. Located just outside the city of Bristol, it has been considered an engineering marvel ever since it was opened in 1864….but also a magnet for people wanting to commit suicide. And this is not an urban legend, because official figures reveal that there were 206 suicides from the bridge between 1974 and 2007, and the chances of survival for anyone taking…

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Joe Metheny: the serial killer who made his victims into hamburgers.

Ironically known in the 90s as “Tiny”, as he was tall and overweight, Joe Metheny’ story began with the search for his runaway wife and son, but ended up on a revenge-driven killing spree and turning his victims into burgers. He held a steady job as a forklift driver and was universally described as intelligent, well-spoken, and very well-mannered, even if he murdered Cathy Ann Magaziner in 1994, a 39-year-old prostitute, and buried her body in a shallow grave on the site of the factory where he worked. The body…

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#April 7, 1832: Joseph Thompson – the man who sold his wife

Nagging wives needed to be careful in 19th Century England, for, as Joseph Thompson did, her husband might put her up for sale. That’s just what happened on this day, April 7 1832, to Mary Thompson, according to this local newspaper report: SALE OF A WIFE BY HER HUSBAND AT CARLISLE On Saturday the 7th instant, the inhabitants of this city witnessed the sale of a wife by her husband, Joseph Thompson, a local farmer who was married in the year 1829, to his present wife. She is a spruce,…

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The lost children of the Alleghenies (found by a dream)

In the mid-19th century, two young boys, George and Joseph Cox, then aged seven and five respectively, wandered from their homes in Pavia, Pennsylvania, never to be seen alive again. Their remains weren’t found until more than a week after their disappearances, when a local farmer followed the signs he saw in a reoccurring dream that led him to their bodies in a remote ravine. This isn’t a legend, but the real tragic, creepy, and suspicious all at the same time story of the Cox children’s disappearance. George and Joseph…

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The last execution in Iceland: a mysterious murder case that’s intrigued a country for nearly 200 years

For centuries, some small farms near the water on Iceland’s Vatnsnes peninsula are scattered among the grassy fields and rocky hills, more or less content to be living at the edge of the world. Cherry on the cake, the peninsula is known for a black basalt rock formation that’s said to be a petrified troll, and for the colonies of seals that come to sun themselves on the beach. On current days, this surreal zone is still almost as peaceful—and lonely—as it was the night in March 1828 when a…

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#March 13, 1770: Daniel Lambert – the heaviest person ever to have lived

Nobody knows what was wrong with Daniel Lambert who was born on this day, March 13 1770. But he went from being a slim, athletic, sports-loving guy to a very very very big man in his thirties, so big that he entered record books as the heaviest person ever to have lived. Daniel was born in Leicester, England, to a family passionate about hunting, gamekeeping and field sports. He joined eagerly in these hobbies and excelled at them. Moreover, he was also an excellent swimmer and taught children to swim…

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#March 9, 1974: the incredible Hiroo Onoda’s One-Man war finally ends

Nearly 30 years after the end of the Second World War Japanese soldier Hiroo Onoda finally surrendered on this day, March 9 1974. His story is curious: he had been waging his own war from a jungle and the mountains. All began in December 1944, when, towards the end of the global conflict, Onoda, an intelligence officer, was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines. His task was simple: destroy infrastructure on the island and do all he could to thwart enemy attacks. However, when US and Philippine Commonwealth forces…

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The dark origins of the fairy tale “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is one of the most famous (and appreciated) fairy tales in the world, first related in 1812 when the Grimm brothers published their collection of tales that had been gathered from old European folk stories. Like many of the Grimm tales, it is supposed that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has been in existence since the Middle Ages, passed down through word-of-mouth over the centuries. The version that is universally told today is the most “digestible” by a non-adult audience, and in 1937,…

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“Leatherman”: the mystery man who walked along the same path for 30 years

The Sparta Cemetery in Ossining, New York, at the crest of an undulating ridge overlooking the Hudson River, is old enough that many of the marble headstones dates before 1900. Some have fallen, others have been swallowed whole by gnarled shrubs or split clean in two by frost. The cemetery is home to the graves of members of Ossining’s founding gentry as long-dead state senators, wealthy railroad merchants or influential local business owners, but most of those interred at the Sparta Cemetery are long forgotten. There’s only one grave that…

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Don’t touch the Royals: the absurd death of the Queen of Siam in the 19th Century

Life is known to have a common destiny for everyone: death. There have been, throughout history, really lot of famous people who died in the most absurd ways, and there is an entire catalog of unbelievable deaths of royal people. For istance Henry I, who was king of England from 1100 until 1135: he died a rather bizarre death, supposedly caused by a meal of lamprey eels, at the age of 67. Or another European king, Alexander of Greece, whowas just 27 when he died in 1920. He was taking…

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Ramesses II: the first (and probably the last) mummy to receive a passport!

Ramesses II is often considered the greatest pharaohs of ancient Egypt: he reigned for over 60 years and his achievements were not matched by the pharaohs who preceded or succeeded him. And, even after death, Ramesses II continued to be unique. How do you move a mummy over 3,000 years old from one country to another? In Ramesses’ case, in 1974, his remains were equipped with a valid passport of Egyptian nationality! It all began in 1974, when Egyptologists working for the Egyptian Museum in Cairo noticed that the pharaoh’s…

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Venice: the only city in the world whose shape resembles a Swan

It is called “Pareidolia”, and it is the tendency for incorrect perception of a stimulus as an object, pattern or meaning known to the observer, such as seeing shapes in clouds, seeing faces in inanimate objects or abstract patterns, or hearing hidden messages in music. In the case of Venice, for example, the shape that the city assumes seen from above is attributable to a swan with its head bent towards the body. The profile of the splendid creature, icon of universal beauty, is easily associated with Venice also because…

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