Of all the ironic ways to die, being killed by one of your own booby traps has to be one of the most ridiculous ways to bite the dust. While everyone who has been killed by setting some kind of booby trap is different, people whose own booby traps killed them rest squarely in the center of a Venn diagram marked "creative" and "paranoid." In these stories about booby trap deaths, you’ll notice that the hapless victims were either afraid of someone breaking into their home, petrified someone would discover their drugs, or attempting to hide from enemies.
Some of the contraptions that you’ll read about in these stories of accidental deaths caused by booby traps resemble the traps in the Home Alone movies, but some of them are just straight-up bombs. Whatever the specifics, these stories are both horrific and darkly comic. Loss of human life is always terrible, but some of these deaths could have been easily avoided if the individuals in these stories would have simply relaxed.
Louis Dethy was a Belgian pensioner who apparently hated his family. In fact, he filled his three-story home in Charlerois with tons of deadly traps to exact his revenge on his estranged children and grandchildren. According to his neighbors, Dethy was only seen outside when he went to the store, but after he hadn't been spotted for quite some time in late 2002, police went to his home.
The authorities discovered a deceased Dethy, who they believe had been accidentally killed while futzing with one of his spring-loaded traps. Along with his body, they uncovered at least 19 traps, including an exploding crate of beer. The house also contained a series of notes that seemed to be clues about the booby traps; one read, "The 12 Apostles are ready to work on the pebbles."
In 2013, a marijuana farmer in upstate New York got drunk and accidentally drove his quad bike into one of his many booby traps, killing himself in the process. The farmer, Daniel Ricketts, was almost decapitated by a string of piano wire that he had strung around his crops. His corpse was discovered by a group of hikers, who promptly called the police. Officers later discovered a series of traps made of barbed wire around the property.
The body of a 67-year-old shut-in, Ernest Gaylord Michelberger, was discovered by his son in 2015 after one of his insane booby traps cut him in half. Savannah Police Department spokesperson Melinda Yarberry noted that, "after a thorough investigation of the scene and interviewing family members, cause of death has officially been ruled an accident by way of booby trap." Michelberger's son said that his dad had become more paranoid over the years as more minorities had begun to move into his neighborhood.
The booby trap that killed Michelberger was apparently constructed out of "an elaborate system of levers, pullies, and two chainsaws."
Homer and Langley Collyer were paranoid, shut-in, hoarder brothers who lived in a Harlem home that they filled with trash. Homer had grown blind over the years and needed Langley to take care of him, but Langley thought that vitamin-C would reverse his vision problems, and he fed his brother 100 oranges a week. Langley was also saving daily newspapers for his brother to read once he was cured of his blindness.
One day in 1947, New York City police received a tip that someone had died in the home. When they entered the house, they discovered the bodies of both of the brothers. They concluded that Langley had died bringing his brother oranges; he had been caught in one of his homemade booby traps and was crushed to death. Without his brother to care for him, Homer died shortly afterwards.