This is not a current news story.

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by mysteriew, Dec 24, 2005.

  1. mysteriew

    mysteriew A diamond in process

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    But it was just so unusual I had to post it. It underlines the importance of not jumping to conclusions until all of the evidence is in.

    Strange scuicide
    At the 1994 annual awards dinner given by the American Association for Forensic Science, AAFS President Don Harper Mills astounded his audience in San Diego with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the story.

    "On 23 March 1994, the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a shotgun wound of the head. The decedent had jumped from the top of a ten-story building intending to commit suicide (he left a note indicating his despondency). As he fell past the ninth floor, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, which killed him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the eighth floor level to protect some window washers and that Opus would not have been able to complete his suicide anyway because of this."

    "Ordinarily," Dr. Mills continued, "a person who sets out to commit suicide ultimately succeeds, even though the mechanism might not be what he intended."

    That Opus was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below probably would not have changed his mode of death from suicide to homicide. But the fact that his suicidal intent would not have been successful caused the medical examiner to feel that he had homicide on his hands.
    http://www.squizzle.com/newsview.asp?id=1462
     
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  3. docwho3

    docwho3 New Member

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    This one might even qualify for the bizarre section.
     
  4. SewingDeb

    SewingDeb "Sorry, I'm not qualified to land the plane."

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    Wow! This is interesting...and with a surprise ending. I wasn't expecting the last part.
     
  5. misterallgood

    misterallgood Former Member

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    I totally agree about not jumping to conclusions. That's easy to forget on the internet, sometimes.

    However, the story told above is an Urban Legend.

    http://www.snopes.com/horrors/freakish/opus.htm

    From the link:

    A story this good should be true. Alas, it's not. There never was a suicidal Ronald Opus, a feuding, shotgun-wielding older couple, or an increasingly confused medical examiner trying to get to the bottom of things. But there is some truth to it, for there is a Don Harper Mills, and he did tell this very story at a meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.

    Here's how Mills explained his involvement with the story in a 1997 interview:



    I made up the story in 1987 to present at the meeting, for entertainment and to illustrate how if you alter a few small facts you greatly alter the legal consequences. In 1994 someone copied it on to the Internet. I was told it had already garnered 200,000 enquiries on the Net. In the past two years I've had around 400 telephone calls about it - librarians, journalists, law students, even law professors wanting to incorporate it into text books.
    It was hypothetical; just a story made up to illustrate a point. It's hard to imagine anyone at that 1987 meeting took it for anything else.

    How did a 1987 illustrative anecdote morph into 1994's believed-to-be-true story? We'll likely never know. How did Dr. Mills come to concoct such a tale? As he said in a 1997 interview, "Some of it I wrote out, and some of it I invented as I went along."

    Ronald Opus never lived. And his death will never die.

    [font=Bookman Old Style,Arial]In 1998 we began seeing versions attributed "A true story from Associated Press, by Kurt Westervelt." If that venerable wire service employs a writer by that name, we've yet to see anything under his byline. As for AP itself having run the Opus story, no, it never did.[/font]​
    [font=Bookman Old Style,Arial] [/font]

    Dr. Mills made it up to illustrate exactly the sort of thing mysteriew was trying to demonstrate -- therefore, even though the story is an internet-bound urban legend of long standing, it still is a pretty good way of making that statement about getting all the facts in. I personally believed this story for years until I saw the "Homicide" episode based on it, and that was when my b.s. meter went off, and I checked Snopes -- there it was.

    Steve/Mr. A
     
  6. mysteriew

    mysteriew A diamond in process

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    Thanks for the background on the story Steve. It seemed a little too fantastic to be true. But it is still one I will try to keep in mind.
     

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