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Three Teenage Boys Accidentally Hang ThemselvesWilliam Anthony Odem, Caleb Rebh, and Brian Jewell were just trying to make some kids cry from fright. The tears came, but not from the patrons of the haunted attractions employing the three.
In October of 1990, Jewell, 17, was working as part of a Haunted Hayride attraction in Lakewood, NJ when he decided to up the scare factor for patrons of the park. As part of his portrayal of a hanging victim, he was meant to stand on the gallows at the Hangman's Scene and recite a chilling speech to the carts that came by as part of the ride. Sometime during the night, the noose that was supposed to hang limply around his neck became cinched and choked the young man to death. He was discovered by a tractorful of patrons, dead, standing on the deck of the gallows.
Six days later, in North Carolina, 15-year-old Odem was working with friends in his aunt's home to construct a haunted house in the basement. Among the fake spider webs, cauldrons, and other Halloween milieu was a noose, meant to be strictly decorative. When Odem playfully slipped the noose over his own neck, it tightened and killed the boy.
Over a decade later in Sparta, MI, 14-year-old Rebh ended up in a scene that the Universe had worked very hard to keep him away from. Earlier in the day, his mother, Kathy, had taken the boy to a local horse farm to see about a job at a haunted hayride. The proprietor said he had filled all the positions and tried to turn the boy away. He begged both the man and his mother to stay, stating he would work for free. The two relented and he was placed in a coffin display and told to scare patrons.
Not satisfied with his performance at the coffin, he offered to switch with another worker whose display involved a plastic skeleton hanging from a noose slung over a small tree. In an attempt to be scarier, Rebh took the place of the skeleton in the tree, causing it to snap back suddenly and cinch the noose around his neck. A group of patrons went by as he was struggling to free himself, but took the display for a good show of acting, watching as his body went limp in the noose.
Corpse Halloween Decoration Hanging From a Fence Turns Out to Actually Be a Dead WomanOhio residents were alarmed to find out that what they presumed to be a corpse-like Halloween decoration hanging from a fence turned out to be an actual dead person. Police are currently investigating Donnie Cochenoeur for the murder of 31-year-old Rebecca Cade, a local drunk beloved by the town. A bloody rock was found near the body, and is presently thought to be the murder weapon.
A local construction worker actually told his daughter that the body was a dummy while driving by, only to find out hours later that it was, in fact, a dead woman.
Dead Body Prop on Porch is Actual Dead GuyOn a Monday in 2009, Mostafa Mahmoud Zayed's neighbors thought he had gone all out with his Halloween decorations for the year, going so far as to put a slumped over, sinister-looking dummy on his porch to frighten his neighbors.
For days neighbors and guests marveled at the authenticity of the prop, though no one rang Mr. Zayed's doorbell to ask where he'd purchased the dummy.
On Thursday, someone in the 75-year-old's Marina Del Rey, CA complex suspected something was amiss with the prop and called the police, who discovered it was not a fake body but Zayed's corpse on the porch, gradually decomposing for almost four days after a single gunshot wound to the eye ended the man's life.
The lifeless corpse had been looking over the complex for days without anyone noticing that it was not a decoration but the body of their former neighbor.
Dozens Drive By Actual Dead Woman in TreeIn Frederica, DE, a 42-year-old woman hung from a tree, simultaneously frightening and impressing passers by for hours before it was discovered the "lifelike" corpse hanging from the tree had actually been void of life since that morning.
On October 26th, 2005, an unidentified woman climbed a tree a quarter mile from her home and jumped from a tall branch in an apparent suicide. Because of the proximity to Halloween, all that drove by the display assumed it to be a clever display for the public and failed to report the body until much later in the morning.
The Real Reason Poltergeist was CursedOver the years, the curse of the Poltergeist movies has been one of the most retold rumors in Hollywood; three films in the franchise, four of the principal actors dead within years- or even months- of the films' release. Now, we all know the Poltergeist films were not done on or strictly for Halloween, but the spooky stories on and off the set are said to have been the result of some sinister props that set off a gory chain of events.
In 1982, months after the release of the first Poltergeist, Dominique Dunne (the older sister) was strangled to death by her ex-boyfriend.
In 1985, Julian Beck (the "bad spirit") of Poltergeist II died of stomach cancer.
In 1987, Will Sampson (the "good spirit") of Poltergeist II died after a heart-lung transplant failed to take.
Finally (so far), in 1988, Heather O'Rourke, who appeared in all three films, died of a septic infection that caused severe bowel blockage. She went through all the filming of Poltergeist III with symptoms of the condition, and eventually died of cardiac arrest en route to the hospital to remove the blockage. She was 12.
People die, yes, but why so many from this one franchise? Was something done on the sets of the film to anger the spirit world? Was something done to tempt the ire of other world while filming the movies? It was all in the props.
As has been revealed in interviews with the surviving cast and crew over the years, real bones were used as set decorations in Poltergeist I and II. A weird fact that was not revealed to the actors in the first movie until they had already filmed their scenes, and which led to actor Will Samson performing a ritual on the set of the second movie to exorcise the spirits that might be present during filming.
Actual Mummy Found on Set of Six Million Dollar Man
In 1976, the Nu-Pike Amusement Park in Long Beach, CA was being prepped to film an episode of the Six Million Dollar Man. The props for the scene, which would take place in a fun house, were being assessed by the director when he saw a man hanging from a rope in the corner that he didn't like. A crewman went to move the dummy and was shocked when its arm came off exposing a real human arm bone.
Before you ask, no, this was not the Six Million Dollar Man Halloween special. The episode being filmed was called "Carnival of Spies" and it aired in February. But finding out a human prop is the real thing is still pretty creepy.
Medical examiners were called in to determine the identity of the mummy and, after finding a 1924 penny and a ticket to the Museum of Crime in Los Angeles in the body's mouth, determined it to be that of outlaw James McCurdy who died in a standoff in Oklahoma in 1911.
Following his death by a posse sent to track the man after he and a handful of others robbed a train of $46 and a shipment of whiskey, McCurdy was embalmed with arsenic and used as a prop by the coroner who charged people a nickel to see the corpse of "The Bandit Who Wouldn't Give Up". The undertaker had been taking the nickels of the curious for nearly five years when a man claiming to be McCurdy's long-lost brother appeared and took possession of the body, claiming he'd have it taken to California for proper burial. The body wouldn't be interred until after the Six Million Dollar Man incident, however, as the "brother" had McCurdy on display weeks later as part of a carnival put on by Great Patterson Shows.
The body eventually found its way to the Nu-Pike where unwitting visitors marveled at the "dummy" for years before its discovery as an actual human body.
Man Buried Alive During Fake Buried Alive StuntIn Fresno, CA, "Amazing Joe" Burress had invited friends, family, and the community to witness his latest death-defying stunt where he would be placed under concrete in a plastic coffin and buried alive.
Friends, associates, a radio station, and even scores of young fans told Burress the stunt was certain to result in his death, but the magician carried on, jumping into the clear plastic coffin handcuffed and chained. Burress was sealed in the box (which was of his own design) and lowered into a 7-foot deep grave at a local family fun center and left to secure his exit from the crypt.
In the days leading up to his grand exhibition, Burress made several attempts at the trick at a nearby pumpkin patch. While making his practice runs, he was informed that he would have a maximum of one minute to escape if he intended to live. His best time prior to the execution of the real thing was five minutes.
For the actual stunt, three feet of dirt was dumped atop Burress after which a window was revealed to show the stuntman working against the chains holding him captive. Then came the wet concrete; 6000 pounds of it to fill the remainder of the hole. When there was still one foot of gap remaining at the top of the grave, a worker pleaded to stop pouring the concrete, but another employee insisted that Burress wanted it to go all the way to the top. Before it could get there, though, the concrete's fill line suddenly dropped by two feet, indicating that the coffin had collapsed under the weight.
By the time the magician could be pulled from the collapsed contraption, he was no longer breathing and attempts to resuscitate him failed.
Burress's body was cleared away from the scene and was not left as a prop itself, but the hole from his stunt-gone-wrong remained a creepy attraction for visitors until the end of the Halloween season.
NY Morgue Technicians Stage Photo Shoot with CadaversEver wonder what happens to you after you die? Not in the metaphysical, heaven/hell sense, but your physical dead body. Assuming you die under somewhat normal circumstances, your body goes to a morgue for processing, like the one in New York City attended to by mortuary technician Kaihl Brassfield.
When the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner took over the supervision of the Brooklyn morgue where Brassfield was employed, things started to calm down in what was once a raucous work environment. And by raucous I of course mean to say they used the body parts of corpses as playthings. And took pictures.
In November of 2009, Blackfield claims a stack of polaroids, which depicted him and other unidentified lab technicians posing with severed heads and other body parts in the morgue, was stolen from his possession and used in an attempt at blackmail. Several months after he refused to pay his blackmailer for silence, the photos made their way to the management and Blackfield was suspended from his position without pay.
Perhaps the worst thing about this body parts as props situation is the fact that Blackfield and the other technicians didn't limit themselves to just Halloween time to take their pictures; some of the confiscated photos were dated while others were unlabeled leading investigators to believe the practice spanned a longer period of time.