Hoax Museum Blog: Death

Jaleel White Commits Suicide — Status: Hoax The latest false celebrity death rumor going around concerns Jaleel White (best known for playing Urkel on Family Matters). Supposedly he committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. This rumor is old. It was first posted on my site over half a year ago (in the comments to my post titled 'Is this Jaleel White?'). It's no truer now than it was then. I have no idea why it's begun circulating again, but here are the main highlights from the hoax AP report: LOS ANGELES,…
Posted: Mon Jun 05, 2006.   Comments (237)

Pet Food Salesman Ships Gallows to Libya — Status: Hoax Early last month a number of British papers ran pieces about a Norfolk farmer selling execution equipment to dictatorships. For instance, this is from the Scotsman (May 12): Norfolk farmer David Lucas has built a booming business selling execution equipment to such enlightened governments as those of Zimbabwe and Libya. For the paltry sum of £12,000 you can be the proud owner of a fine set of English Oak gallows to hang the dissident of your choice. Or, if you've got a few…
Posted: Thu Jun 01, 2006.   Comments (6)

George Lutz, RIP — Status: Obituary George Lutz of Amityville Horror fame has given up the ghost. He died of a heart attack in Las Vegas on May 8. George and his family lived in the house in Amityville, New York for four weeks in 1975 before supposedly being driven out of it by repeated paranormal occurrences (weird sounds and voices, green slime dripping from the ceiling, etc.) They left the house in a hurry, but weren't so scared that they weren't able to return and hold a garage sale. Personally I…
Posted: Fri May 12, 2006.   Comments (34)

Vote For Padre Pio — Status: Joke ballot Reuters reports on a case of a dead guy who was temporarily in the running for Italy's president: With no hope of immediately electing a president, lawmakers have been throwing away votes for the past two days while party leaders negotiate a consensus candidate. A secret ballot has allowed them to get creative. For one elector, the political deadlock offered a rare chance to vote for Padre Pio, a 20th century mystic monk who had the stigmata -- bleeding wounds in the…
Posted: Tue May 09, 2006.   Comments (5)


Human-Flavored Rum — Status: Probably an urban legend mistaken as news This could be the next big thing: Soylent Green Human-Flavored Rum. Reuters reports: Hungarian builders who drank their way to the bottom of a huge barrel of rum while renovating a house got a nasty surprise when a pickled corpse tumbled out of the empty barrel, a police magazine website reported... the body of the man had been shipped back from Jamaica 20 years ago by his wife in the barrel of rum in order to avoid the cost and…
Posted: Thu May 04, 2006.   Comments (15)

Vet Fakes Death of Dog — Status: Strange I've heard of faking the death of people, but I've never before heard of a case of someone faking the death of an animal. Until now. The Chicago Sun Times reports on this bizarre case of a Pennsylvania couple who thought the vet had euthanized their epileptic dog, but then found out he had only pretended to do so: A couple who thought they were watching their epileptic dog being euthanized actually witnessed a simple sedation procedure concocted so the veterinary clinic…
Posted: Mon May 01, 2006.   Comments (17)

Dead Man Runs For New Orleans Mayor — Status: Joke campaign Twenty-five people are campaigning to be mayor of New Orleans. One of them is legendary rhythm-and-blues musician Ernie K-Doe. His wife insists that he deserves to be mayor because "He gets the job done. The guy has soul." He also happens to be dead, which, I suppose, makes him perfect for the job (resistant to corruption-- especially if he was embalmed). Unfortunately he's not actually on the ballot, so his supporters will have to stage a write-in campaign. Though…
Posted: Sun Apr 09, 2006.   Comments (0)

Will Ferrell Dies While Paragliding — Status: Hoax An announcement of actor Will Ferrell's death in a paragliding accident was briefly posted on the wire service iNewswire today, before the service caught wind of it, realized Will Ferrell wasn't dead, and yanked it. The release read, in part: Los Angeles -- Actor Will Ferrell accidentally died in a freak para-gliding accident yesterday in Torey Pines, Southern California. The accident apparently happened somewhere near the famed paragliding site after a freak wind gush…
Posted: Wed Mar 15, 2006.   Comments (10)

Clairvoyant Gets Message From Woman Buried Alive — Status: Almost definitely an urban legend The Leicester Mercury has printed a spooky story that sounds very much like an urban legend. (Though I know some people say that true urban legends don't involve the supernatural, so I guess it would be a ghost legend.) Since I don't believe in ghosts, I'm assuming that the story is mostly b.s. But I'm curious if any parts of it are true. The story goes like this: In 1950 Dr Guiseppi Stoppolino of Camerino University was testing an Italian…
Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2006.   Comments (31)

Suicide Cryptogram — Status: Undetermined (the cryptogram is probably genuine, but it's meaning is unknown) Security expert Bruce Schneier has posted an interesting item on his blog. It's a scan of a cryptogram emailed to him by someone who claims the cryptogram was left behind by a man named David Rayburn, who killed his wife and stepson with a hammer and then hanged himself. It's been confirmed that this murder/suicide did occur, and it seems likely that the correspondent is telling the truth about the…
Posted: Wed Feb 01, 2006.   Comments (4)

Cremain Printing — Status: True Two weeks ago a lot of people were linking to a story about books bound in human skin that can be found in many libraries, including the rare book libraries at Brown and Harvard. This is, apparently, quite true. Often the books are old medical works, with the skin coming from patients or paupers whose bodies were bought for research. The most gruesome book, owned by the Boston Athenaeum, is an 1837 copy of the memoirs of the highwayman George Walton, bound in his own skin.
Posted: Tue Jan 24, 2006.   Comments (15)

Dog Leaps From Overpass — Status: Possible canine suicide? Charles G. Jetchick was driving along, minding his own business, when suddenly a dog crashed through his window. It had fallen from an overpass. Police don't think it was thrown. Instead, they speculate the dog fell by accident while trying to avoid a car. The police officer commented: ""We've had rocks and other stuff like that fall off of overpasses. This would be the first dog we've had." The Anomalist, however, speculates that it might be another…
Posted: Thu Jan 19, 2006.   Comments (5)

Mummified Mother Still Watching TV — Status: True Big Gary forwarded me this urban-legendesque story about the mummified body of Johannas Pope, who was "found in a chair in front of her television set 2 1/2 years after her death." Apparently she had been left there by her family, who were honoring her wish that she not be buried. They had kept the air conditioner running on full blast, thereby slowing the process of decay. Must have had a huge electricity bill. Coincidentally, also in the news is the story of Mirko…
Posted: Tue Jan 10, 2006.   Comments (9)

‘Who Wants To Die’ Talking Elmo — Status: Either a prank or a manufacturing defect When Angela Bolls bought an interactive Elmo book for her young daughter, Miranda, she had no idea what she would be exposing her daughter to: Family members said 16-month-old Miranda Boll's new book, "Potty Time With Elmo," was supposed to teach an interactive lesson using voice commands. However, when the book's buttons are pressed, it reportedly says something it is not supposed to -- "who wants to die?" ... Bolls said she checked…
Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2006.   Comments (52)

La Pascualita, the Mexican Corpse Bride — Status: Urban Legend This has already been posted in the hoax forum, but it's too good to ignore. Reuters has reported on a Mexican urban legend concerning a mannequin in the window of a bridal gown store in the city of Chihuahua. Local rumor has it that the mannequin is really the embalmed body of the former store owner's daughter. The former store owner was called Pascuala Esparza. La Pascualita means 'Little Pascuala' (i.e. her daughter). According to the legend her daughter died…
Posted: Wed Dec 21, 2005.   Comments (46)

Man Fulfills Short Life Prediction — Status: Self-fulfilled prophecy When Sandeep was born, an astrologer predicted that he would have a short life. Recently another astrologer, on TV, seconded this prediction. In despair (whether because of the second prediction, or for some other reason, is not clear), Sandeep took his own life, thereby fulfilling the prophecy. This isn't the only self-fulfillment of a death prophecy that I'm aware of. The more famous case was the prediction of the 16th century astrologer Girolamo…
Posted: Tue Dec 20, 2005.   Comments (5)

Xenacate — This is a request for help. The proofreader has been going through the manuscript of Hippo Eats Dwarf looking for errors. This is the final check that the book receives before it goes to print. After this, nothing can be changed. Anyway, in the final chapter of the book (about death), I include the following definition: Xenacate, v.: To kill a TV or movie character off so completely that no chance remains of bringing her back from the dead. Inspired by the TV show Xena: Warrior…
Posted: Wed Dec 07, 2005.   Comments (88)

Hippo Eats Dwarf Sighting — Status: Dwarf-eating hippo sighting Peter Mount sent along a sighting of the Hippo Eats Dwarf story. (Not my book, the story itself.) It's turned up in a new book titled The World's Stupidest Deaths. I haven't seen the book, but this Australian review of it lists the tale as being among the stupid deaths it describes: Other "stupid deaths" include: AUSTRIAN dwarf and circus acrobat Franz Dasch, who was killed when he bounced on a trampoline into the yawning mouth of a nearby…
Posted: Mon Nov 21, 2005.   Comments (8)

Who Buried Paul McCartney? — Status: Documentary A Dutch TV station, omroep.nl (I think it's a TV station), has an interesting documentary online about the Paul Is Dead hoax. The documentary is in English, but with Dutch subtitles. I had to select the Real Player option to get the video to play. The documentary contains interviews with many of the key players in the events of 1969, including Russ Gibb (the Detroit DJ whose broadcast about the Paul is dead rumor brought it to the attention of a national audience),…
Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2005.   Comments (9)

The Silent Movie Actress Archive (Corporeal Memorabilia) — Status: Art Project The website of the SMA (Silent Movie Actress) Archive claims that: We are a small and dedicated organisation based in Baltimore, USA. Our aim is the ‘resurrection’ of actresses from the Golden era of silent cinema. To do this we are securing a large body of quality genetic material from a variety of sources which is subjected to rigorous testing to ensure its validity. Samples range from small tissue and blood samples to full bones and several preserved organs. Is…
Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2005.   Comments (4)

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