It's a common wish for most people to die peacefully in their sleep, but this doesn't always happen. Some people deaths are mysterious, some die in freak accidents or otherwise strange, unusual or downright weird manners that are just plain baffling to the living. Whether you find this list creepy or thought-provoking, vote up the bizarre death you find the most mind-boggling.
Gloria Ramirez — 1994: Death by bodily toxic fume emission
Gloria Ramirez entered the hospital while suffering complications related to cervical cancer, but when the staff attempted to administer medications, heart defibrillation and draw blood, they noticed a garlic-like smell coming from Ramirez's lips and strange, manila-colored chunks in her blood. The syringe also smelled of ammonia. At this point, members of the staff begin to pass out, and some later suffered medical complications, which they attributed to whatever had happened with Ramirez's body. A HAZMAT team was eventually brought in to decontaminate the hospital room. The case has never been satisfactorily resolved, and to this day it is still shrouded in mystery. (info via the New Times Los Angeles, reprinted here)
Clement Vallandigham — 1871: Death by trial reenactment
Talk about really going to bat for your client. Clement Vallandigham was so intent on clearing Thomas McGehan's name, he ended up killing himself — literally — in the process. From a contemporary article, reprinted at Civil War @ 150: "On last Friday night, at Lebanon, Warren County, Ohio, Mr. C. L. Vallandigham, who was one of the counsel in the case of the McGehan murder trial going on at that place, accidentally shot himself. He was in a room with ex-Lieut. Gov. McBurney, and while showing with a pistol how Myer’s, the man murdered, might have shot himself, the pistol was discharged, the ball entering the right side of the abdomen below the ribs." Vallandigham's demonstration worked so well, McGehan was cleared of any wrongdoing; however, the defense attorney later died from his wound.
Polonus Vorstius — 1470: Death by spontaneous human combustion
Spontaneous human combustion is a bizarre way to die indeed, in part because we're still not sure exactly what causes it. Many scientists even refuse to admit these fires, which seem to randomly arise without any source of ignition, are actually sparked internally. Whatever the cause and however valid, there are numerous cases of this phenomena recorded throughout history, Polonus Vorstius being the first, having been recorded in the Historiarum Anatomicarum Rariorum, a tome of strange medical phenomena by Thomas Bartholin. As Jackie Rosenhex of Doctor Review writes, "Apparently, the hapless (and soon headless) horseman enjoyed a few glasses of strong wine at his home in Milan in 1470, and then began to belch fire. Then, the story goes, he proceeded to burst into flames and die, in front of his horrified parents."
Henry Taylor — 1872: Death by coffin
Or perhaps, death by irony is a more appropriate categorization for this one. Let's have the BBC tell us the rest: "[Taylor] was a pall bearer in London's Kensal Green Cemetery, and was midway through a funeral when he caught his foot on a stone and stumbled. As he fell to the ground, the other bearers let go of the coffin, which fell on poor, prone Henry...The greatest confusion was created amongst the mourners who witnessed the accident,' said the Illustrated Police News in November 1872, 'and the widow of the person about to be buried nearly went into hysterics.'"