Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween hangings

This post is not about the perennial stories this time of year about decorations that are too reminiscent of African American lynching victims. Rather, it is about the rare stories in which a Halloween decoration turns out to be the real thing:42-year-old woman who had hanged herself that morning or the night before.

MARINA DEL REY, California 2009

I authenticated these stories on, which also documents the unfortunate accidental demise of 2 teenagers (in 1990 and 2001) who were staging gallows scenes at Halloween events. But the most extraordinary story* occurred decades ago at a California funhouse, where "every day is Halloween":

LONG BEACH, California 1976
When a crew member knocked off the arm of a prop at the Nu-Pike Amusement Park while filming an episode of "The Six Million Dollar Man", the break revealed a real bone inside. Famous Los Angeles coroner Thomas Noguchi determined that the "hanged man" at the funhouse was the authentic mummified body of train robber Elmer McCurdy, shot and killed by an Oklahoma posse in 1911!

*Told in detail in my book Modern Mummies.

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