10 Harrowing Christmas Accounts That Were Far From Festive

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10 Harrowing Christmas Accounts That Were Far From Festive



Whatever your reasons for celebrating it, whether it’s religious belief or just the chance to spend carefree quality time with family and loved ones, Christmas is generally a time of joy, happiness, and festive fun. However, on occasion, what should be a time of love for all around us can quickly turn into a festive nightmare. Those who learn of such events from afar are shocked, while those who survive such incidents see the holiday seasons forever marked with terrifying and horrific memories.

As we will see as we go down our lit of the darker side of Christmas, as much as the holidays bring out the best in most of us, for some, they can bring out dark and twisted feelings that finally bubble over to breaking point. Here are ten such examples.

10Kristy Bamu Accused Of Witchcraft

Photo credit: Met Police

As soon as paramedics saw the lifeless body of 15-year-old Kristy Bamu in the bathtub on Christmas Day 2010, they could tell he was subject to a horrific ordeal before he had drowned. His body was battered and bruised, and if that wasn’t enough, the bathroom and the room next to it were awash in what would be confirmed to be the young boy’s blood. In all, later reports would show he had 130 separate injuries upon his body.

They had been called by the sister of the dead boy, Magalie, who asked them to hurry to the flat in in Newham, East London, stating, “My brother has drowned himself in the bath.” Investigation would show that Magalie, along with her boyfriend Eric Bikubi, had turned the rooms into makeshift torture and interrogation chambers, apparently under the impression that Kristy Bamu was a witch.

According to family members, Kristy had only arrived several days earlier in order to spend Christmas with his sister. However, according to the eventual trial, Kristy had “wet himself,” and upon attempting to hide his underwear (likely out of embarrassment), he was discovered by his sister and Bikubi, who bizarrely made the assertion he must be a witch.

Bikubi would arrange rituals and bizarre ceremonies aimed at “forcing the Devil” out of Kristy (and his siblings, who Bikubi had also accused ofwitchcraft). Part of these ceremonies included severe beatings, which took the teenager to the brink of death. He was then taken to the bath to clean up. Being barely conscious, his body simply collapsed in the water, and he was unable to lift himself out. By the time his sister returned, he was dead. The jurors heard that Bikubi was a controlling person and that he was the main instigator behind the needless death.

9Where Did The Sodder Children Go?

Perhaps what makes the case of the five missing (and presumed dead) children of the Sodder family even more tragic is that the case is still officially unsolved over six decades after the events.

On Christmas Eve 1945, near the small town of Fayetteville, West Virginia, the Sodder family, George and Jennie and their nine children (a tenth child was away in the military), would settle in their beds, awaiting for sleep to guide them through to Christmas morning. For five of the children—Maurice, Martha, Louis, Jennie, and Betty (ranging from five to 14 years old)—the morning would not come.

A fire ripped through the property an hour or so after midnight. Both parents made it out of the building alongside their four remaining children—Sylvia, Marion, John, and George. The fate of their other offspring, though, is unknown. No remains were ever found, either inside the burned-out house or in the surrounding area. Despite this, death certificates were issued less than a week later.

The Sodders, though, began to think things through a little further. For example, a worker at a local crematorium told Jennie that bones remain even after two hours of burning at 2,000 degrees. The fire at the Sodders’ home at no point reached such high levels of heat and was put out within 45 minutes. Faulty wiring was stated to be the cause of the fire, but the Sodders’ power had remained on as the fire raged. Further still, witnesses reported seeing a strange man near one of the older children’s trucks just before the fire. (His truck refused to start following their escape from the property.) Perhaps most chilling of all, the family would find what they believed to have been the remains of a “napalm pineapple bomb” in their yard, an interesting discovery, as Sylvia would recall hearing a thud and rolling sounds on the roof shortly before the fire began.

Then came the sightings of four of the five children in a car with Florida plates. They were accompanied by two women and two men of “Italian extraction.” Theories began to suggest that the Sodders had been mixed up with local Mafia or that the children were kidnapped on the order of unknown parties. The last surviving member of the Sodder family, Sylvia, firmly believes her siblings not only survived the fire that evening but were taken somewhere against their will by persons unknown.

8Tricia McCauley

Photo credit: WJLA-TV

On Christmas Day 2016, the body of Tricia McCauley was riding around Washington, DC, as her killer drove her car—the reason he had strangled her to death in the first place.

Her body would be discovered a little over 24 hours later when her vehicle, still being driven by her killer, Adrian Duane Johnson, was pulled over by police following a report from a member of the public, Jonathan Padget, who had seen an appeal for the missing actress on television. As well as strangulation marks around her throat, there was evidence that she had been badly beaten in the attack.

Padget had seen Johnson sitting in McCauley’s parked car with loud music and cigarette smoke pouring out of the windows. As the car drove away, Padget made note of the license plate, later matching it to the police appeal, at which point he notified them of his sighting.

What made Tricia McCauley’s death even more enraging was that only days earlier, Johnson, who had a string of assaults and convictions behind him, had been ordered by a judge to have GPS monitoring device fitted to his person. When he was arrested, this device was missing. Needless to say, many were critical of the justice system that allowed Johnson to be in a position to end an innocent person’s life.

7Rebecca Johnson—The Lapland Murder

Photo credit: BBC News

When Rebecca Johnson ventured off to Finland to work in Lapland as part of the Christmas holiday period in December 2016, neither she nor her family could have dreamed her trip would end so tragically.

Rebecca was working as a tour guide on Christmas-themed adventures into the unforgiving terrain of the Arctic. Her body would be discovered in the flat she shared with her boyfriend, a Czech national named Karel Frybl (also named by some sources as Radek Kovac), seemingly having been the victim of a brutal and vicious attack. Frybl would be arrested as the main suspect following his bizarre manhunt by police through the snowy wilderness. He had attempted to flee on one of the nearby husky sledges in conditions that had seen the temperature drop to almost –30 degrees Celsius (–22 °F). The authorities would use snowmobiles, helicopters, as well teams of husky dogs to eventually find the suspect in a considerably bad way, almost dead from hypothermia.

What made the devastation cut even deeper for the family is that Rebecca’s body would not be released to her native Scotland until the investigation was complete, which would take considerable time.

In August 2017, Frybl admitted to killing Rebecca, though he claimed he had no memory of the attack and had suffered a “temporary mental breakdown.”

6Bruce Pardo—The Santa Claus Killer

In an account that reads like the grimmest of horror stories, Bruce Pardo, labeled the Santa Claus Killer, would terrorize an entire household before ending his own life.[5] His 2008 Christmas Eve killing spree in Covina, an otherwise quiet suburb of Los Angeles, California, would leave nine people dead (a number of whom were murdered execution-style). At least one was killed by Pardo’s subsequent arson.

It was shortly before midnight on Christmas Eve, when Pardo, dressed in full Santa Claus costume, got out of his car and walked to the front door of his ex-wife’s parents’ home. As soon as the door opened, Pardo opened fire with the semiautomatic weapon he had in his hand.

After his initial wave of bullets, which led to family members inside the house dropping to floor like deflated balloons, Pardo would put the weapon down and turn his attention to the brightly wrapped package he was carrying. He unwrapped it and produced a homemade flamethrower. Within seconds, the house was aglow with flames.

He would retreat shortly after, himself injured and burned from his crudely made flamethrower. He would be found later that evening at his brother’s home, dead from an apparently self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head. However, perhaps indicative of his mental state at the time, he had seemingly given little concern to his own well-being during the attack, as his body had severe burns, with the Santa Claus costume “melted to his skin” in places.

It would appear, from investigations afterward, that the murder spree was the result of life going wrong (his failed marriage), increasing pressures (child support and increasing debt), and finally an attempt to defraud the courts in order to lighten his child support payments. When he was caught, he was fired, and shortly after, he seemingly snapped.

5Los Feliz Murder—The House Where Every Day Is Christmas?

Photo credit: Alexis Vaughn

It’s not so much the murder-suicide that took place in a mansion in the extremely affluent Los Feliz district of Los Angeles but the rumors that persisted in the following decades, particularly when the Internet invaded people’s homes, that made the events of December 1959 live on in the grim folklore of otherwise sunny and happy California.

According to the story, at 4:30 AM on December 6, respected and successful cardiologist Harold Perelson took a hammer to his wife’s head while she slept, leaving her to choke on her own blood as he proceeded into the bedroom of his teenage daughter, Judye. He attacked her in the same way, but surprisingly, she managed to flee the property screaming before ringing the police.

Bizarrely, he didn’t attack his two younger children, instead telling them, “Go back to bed. This is a nightmare.” They did as told. By the time the police and emergency services had arrived at the Spanish-style mansion, Perelson was dead from an overdose of painkillers (31 pills were discovered in his system) and two doses of Nembutal (a barbiturate). It is believed Perelson and his family were in a mountain of debt, and like the Bruce Pardo incident that we looked at earlier, he simply snapped.

The spooky parts of the tale—if indeed they are true and not just urban legend—is that the house remained decorated for Christmas, looking just as it did on the night of the murders, complete with wrapped presents under the tree. The property apparently became a target of thrill-seekers and adventurers. The house was sold after the murders, but by most accounts, it has remained empty, aside from a family who rented the property very briefly in 1960. Some people attribute the Christmas decorations to this unknown family, with the legend stating that “something” made them flee the property without taking any of their possessions with them on the anniversary of the murder-suicide.

4Gabriel Cadis

On January 6, 2012, in Jaffa, near Tel Aviv, lawyer, accountant, and Arab Christian leader Gabriel Cadis was stabbed to death by a man wearing a Santa Claus costume, following a parade. The area’s Greek Orthodox community were to celebrate Christmas the next day.

According to authorities, the murder was in relation to a local family rivalry, and three Arab Israelis, all from the same family, were soon arrested. Two other suspects were placed under house arrest.

In 2016, Tufik Dalou and Faud Abu Maneh, both in their twenties, were found guilty of the murder. It is believed that (then) 56-six-year old Tala Abu Maneh had ordered the killing, although this was never proven or confirmed.

According to reports, it was Cadis’s recent third election victory as leader of the Greek Orthodox Christians that had created increased tensions in the community, particularly with the Abu Maneh family. Israel has a huge Christian population, and the timing of the murders to coincide with Greek Orthodox Christmas Eve was purposeful, according to investigators.

3Carnation Murders

Christmas Eve 2007 in Carnation, Washington, would see Michele Anderson take the lives of three generations of her own family. Later investigations, and indeed Michele’s own confession, would show the killings were influenced mainly by a perceived debt of $40,000 that her brother Scott Anderson (one of the deceased) owed to her. When her parents took his side and suddenly requested that she and her boyfriend (and accomplice) Joseph McEnroe begin paying rent for the family-owned trailer they lived in, the pair hatched their deadly plan.

Just after 4:00 PM on that fateful Christmas Eve, Michele and Joseph arrived at the family home and quickly shot her parents to death, before dragging their bodies to a shed in the garden and cleaning their blood from the floors in the house.

They then sat waiting for her brother, his wife Erica, and their two young children, who were coming for a family meal. Upon their arrival, the pair opened fire, killing them all. They fled the property, leaving the bodies to be discovered on December 26 by a coworker of the mother’s, who had grown concerned by her friend’s absence from work.

Police soon suspected Michele and her boyfriend due to their seemingly unconcerned behavior as well as their equally suspicious alibi that they were out of town on the day of the murders, as they had planned to marry in Las Vegas. They told police they’d changed their minds and headed back to Carnation.

McEnroe would be sentenced to life in prison in 2015, while Michele would be found guilty of all six murders and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in April 2016.

2Ron Gene Simmons’s Christmas Killing Spree

Photo credit: Crime Scene Database

Over a seven-day period from December 22 to 28, 1987, former US Air Force master sergeant Ronald Gene Simmons went on a killing spree through Arkansas that would leave a total of 16 people dead, 14 of them family members.

Simmons would begin his horrendous murder spree by shooting his wife and eldest son dead before strangling his three-year old granddaughter, who was staying at the house. He waited for four more of his children to return home, before taking each child separately out to the back of the property and holding their heads under the water in a large rain barrel.

He would remain at the family home until other members of his family arrived for a preplanned Christmas visit, which they did on December 26. He would shoot his son and daughter as well as their spouses. He strangled or drowned their children. In a dark, sick twist, his daughter Sheila had been the subject of sexual abuse at the hands of her father for years, and her daughter had actually been fathered by Simmons himself.

Two days later, Simmons would travel to nearby Russellville, where he would gun down a young woman who he was (by all accounts) infatuated with but who had turned down his advances. He would take shots at several people throughout the town over the following hours, killing one more person (who was no more than a stranger to him) before he gave himself up to police and handed over his weapon. He was ultimately found guilty of all 16 murders and sentenced to death.

In a bizarre twist to an already extremely dark tale, Simmons would need to be kept separate during his time spent on death row due to threats on his life from other prisoners. This wasn’t due to the horrific nature of his crimes, nor that he had sexually abused his own daughter (before murdering her), but because his refusal to appeal his death sentence, they believed, would weaken their own chances of appeal. Simmons was executed by lethal injection in June 1990.

1Aziz Yazdanpanah

Shortly after 11:00 AM on Christmas Day 2011, 56-year-old Aziz Yazdanpanah donned a Santa Claus costume and declared he wanted to be “all fatherly” to his family when he showed up at their apartment in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Then he shot his estranged wife, their two teenage children, his sister, his brother-in-law, and their 22-year-old daughter dead before shooting himself.

Although it was well-known to those who knew him that Yazdanpanah was having problems with his marriage, his increasing financial difficulties weren’t as commonly known. As we have looked at in several other such cases on this list, the murders by Yazdanpanah appear to have been the result of a mind that had simply broken.

According to the police reports, it was Yazdanpanah himself who had called police at 11:34 AM, stating to them, “Help. I am shooting people.” A text, later found on the phone of his murdered niece, was sent at 11:15 AM, stating, “Now he wants to be all fatherly and win father of the year.” It is believed that shortly after that text was sent, the murders began.

When police arrived at the scene, they found evidence of what appeared to be an attempt to “frame” his dead brother-in-law, as one of the guns used in the killings had been placed in his hand (presumably by Yazdanpanah). Police would state that at some point after making the phone call to authorities, he suddenly became “overwhelmed,” possibly having come to the awful realization of what he had done, so he simply turned the gun on himself.


Raging wildfires in California

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Raging wildfires in California


Destructive fires in Northern California have killed at least 13 people and destroyed at least 1,500 buildings, leaving devastating scenes in their path. More than 115,000 acres have been burned, forcing the evacuation of up to 20,000 people.
Flames overtake a structure as nearby homes burn in the Napa wine region in California on October 9, as multiple wind-driven fires continue to whip through the region. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
Michael Pond, left, looks through ashes as his wife Kristine, center, gets a hug from Zack Thurston, their daughter’s boyfriend, while they search the remains of their home destroyed by fires in Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 9. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)
An American flag still flies as as structures burn in Coffey Park, Oct. 9. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)
A resident rushes to save his home as an out of control wildfire moves through the area on Oct. 9, in Glen Ellen, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
The Coffey Park subdivision in Santa Rosa, Calif., is seen before, left, and after wildfires swept through the area on Oct. 9. Officials have called it one of the most destructive fire emergencies in the state’s history. (GOOGLE EARTH, left and CALIFORNIA HIGHWAY PATROL)
Kristine Pond reacts as she searches the remains of her family’s home destroyed by fires in Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 9. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)
A destroyed car sits in the remains of a home in Santa Rosa, Calif. Oct. 9. Multiple wildfires are scattered through out Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, leaving at least 10 people dead and destroying homes and businesses in their path. (MABANGL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)
Jim Stites watches part of his neighborhood burn in Fountaingrove, Calif., Oct. 9. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)
Burned out wine bottles sit on a rack at the fire damaged Signarello Estate winery after a wildfire moved through the area on Oct. 9, in Napa, California. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Coffey Park homes burn early Oct. 9 in Santa Rosa, Calif. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)
A woman evacuates horses as strong Santa Ana winds blow fire and smoke from the Canyon 2 Fire toward them on Oct. 9 in Orange, Calif. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)
Residents of the Coffey Park neighborhood sift through a relative’s home that was torched, Oct. 9, in Santa Rosa. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)
Vicky Walker hugs Orange County Fire Authority firefighter Jose Garcia as she thanks him for helping to save her home in Anaheim Hills in Anaheim, Calif., Oct. 9. (Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via AP)
A sign stands next to fire damaged mobile homes at the Journey’s End Mobile Home Park on Oct. 9, in Santa Rosa, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Smoke rises as a wildfire burns in the hills east of Napa, Calif., Oct. 9. (Michael Short/San Francisco Chronicle via AP)
Flames from a wildfire approach a pair of horses in a field Oct. 9, in Napa, Calif. (Rich Pedroncelli/Associated Press)
Firefighters assess the scene as a house burns in the Napa wine region of California on Oct. 9, as multiple wind-driven fires continue to ravage the area burning structures and causing widespread evacuations. (Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)
Hotel guests watch the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country burn to the ground in Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 9. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
Rudy Habibe, from Puerto Rico, stands by the burning Hilton Sonoma Wine Country hotel, where he was a guest, in Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 9. (Jeff Chiu/Associated Press)
Fire consumes a home as out of control wildfires move through the area on Oct. 9, in Glen Ellen, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A firefighter positions a hose at a home burning in Glen Ellen, Calif., Oct. 9. Fast-moving wildfires raged across several counties in Northern California overnight, forcing the evacuation of at least two hospitals and numerous neighborhoods early Monday, the authorities said. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
A firefighter puts out hot spots in a home that was destroyed by a wildfire in Anaheim Hills in Anaheim, Calif. (Jeff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via AP)
The Historic Round Barn burns, Oct. 9 in Santa Rosa, Calif. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)
A row of chimneys mark destroyed homes in the Coffey Park subdivision of Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 9. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
Homeowners embrace after learning that their home was destroyed by the Canyon Fire No. 2 in Anaheim Hills, Calif. USA, 09 October 2017. The Canyon Fire 2 has spread to between four to five thousand acres and is zero percent contained. Canyon Fire No. 2 burns homes in Southern California, Anaheim Hills, USA – 09 Oct 2017 (Paul Buck/EPA/Shutterstock)
People watch as a wildfire burns along a hillside, Oct. 9, in Orange, Calif. (Jae C. Hong/Associated Press)
Bruce and Lisa Coats look over the remains of their home in the Coffey Park subdivision of Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 9. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
A home destroyed by a wildfire is visible in Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 9. (JOHN G. MABANGLO/EPA/Shutterstock)
A motorcycle burns in the driveway of a home on fire in Glen Ellen, Calif., Oct. 9. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
A firefighter puts water on a home destroyed by the Canyon Fire No. 2 in Anaheim Hills, Calif. (PAUL BUCK/EPA/Shutterstock)
A firefighter takes a break after battling wildfire flames during the Canyon Fire No. 2 in Anaheim Hills, Calif. (GARCIA/EPA/Shutterstock)
A burning home is doused with water from firefighters during the Canyon Fire No. 2 in Anaheim Hills, Calif., (EUGENE GARCIA/EPA/Shutterstock)
A Cazadero firefighter struggles to protect a home from catching fire in Coffey Park, Oct. 9, in Santa Rosa, Calif. (Kent Porter/The Press Democrat via AP)
The sun is seen through a smoked filled sky as a charred tree stands near a destroyed home in Santa Rosa, Calif. (MABANGL/EPA/Shutterstock)
Trees sway in the Santa Ana Winds as a smoke rises from the Canyon Fire 2, Oct. 9, in Orange, California. (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Burned out cars sit next to a building on fire in a fire ravaged neighborhood on Oct. 9, in Santa Rosa, Calif. (Justin Sullivan)
Residents walk through the fire damaged Journey’s End Mobile Home Park on Oct. 9, in Santa Rosa, Calif. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
A helicopter dumps water on a home as firefighters battle a wildfire in Anaheim Hills in Anaheim, Calif., Oct. 9. (eff Gritchen/The Orange County Register via AP)
Tina and Art Anaya hug Lisa Coats on a street in the Coffey Park subdivision, where they all lost their homes to a wildfire, in Santa Rosa, Calif., Oct. 9. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
Burning embers remain from a demolished home in the Anaheim Hills neighborhood in Anaheim, California on Oct. 9, after a fire spread quickly through the area destroying homes, prompting mandatory evacuations and freeway closures. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images)

Monster ‘Fatberg’: 143 Tons of Grease and Garbage Clog UK Sewer

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Monster ‘Fatberg’: 143 Tons of Grease and Garbage Clog UK Sewer

Monster 'Fatberg': 143 Tons of Grease and Garbage Clog UK Sewer

What’s as hard as cement and is currently blocking 820 feet of sewer network in the U.K.? A disgusting mass of solid waste called a “fatberg.”

Credit: Thames Water

Writer Neil Gaiman’s 1997 urban fantasy novel “Neverwhere” imagined sewers underneath large cities as magical shadow worlds, each a home to a host of peculiar individuals and monstrous beasts. However, the reality of what lies below cities in their waste networks is much more disgusting, as a team of Thames Water engineers in the United Kingdom recently found out.

In a sewer region located about 11 feet (4 meters) under the Whitechapel neighborhood in London, workers are just beginning to dismantle an inanimate but uniquely revolting inhabitant — a vast and rock-solid plug of oily waste charmingly known as a “fatberg.”

Composed of stinking garbage and grease and weighing in at 143 tons (130,000 kilograms), the Whitechapel fatberg sprawls for 820 feet (250 m) — about the length of two English football fields. This means the blob is more than twice as long as the nefarious iceberg responsible for sinking the Titanic, which was estimated to measure a mere 200 to 400 feet (61 to 122 m) long. [In Photos: The World’s Grossest Things]

Remote inspections using CCTV cameras showed that sewer passages were blocked by the fatberg, according to a statement released by Thames Water, the agency directing the cleanup effort.

Removing the mountainous mass — a three-week project — requires a crew of eight people working seven days a week from 8 a.m. local time until 5 p.m. Workers will blast the ‘berg with high-powered water jets to break it down, and then vacuum up the chunks — about 22 to 34 tons (30,844 to 19,958 kg) per shift — for removal to a recycling site, Thames Water representatives announced in the statement.

An infographic shows how far the Whitechapel fatberg extends underground — the length of two British football fields.

An infographic shows how far the Whitechapel fatberg extends underground — the length of two British football fields.

Credit: Thames Water

The enormous and slimy blockage built up over time, from grease and oils that were poured down sink drains, joining forces along the way with diapers, condoms, sanitary products, hand wipes and other waste that was flushed down toilets, Matt Rimmer, Thames Water’s head of waste networks, said in the statement.

Once these gloppy discards found their way into the sewers, they accumulated and solidified into the consistency of concrete, Rimmer explained, describing the Whitechapel fatberg as “the biggest we’ve ever seen.”

Because in case you were wondering — yes, there have been more.

A 15-ton (13,607 kg) fatberg made headlines in 2013, when it was discovered in a sewer serving the London suburb of Kingston. A supervisor for Thames Water said in a statement that while the agency had removed greater volumes of gloppy garbage from sewers previously, they’d never seen “a single congealed lump” this size.

The more recent — and bigger — Whitechapel fatberg far outweighs the Kingston glob, granting it the dubious honor of being the largest sewer-grown fatberg in British history, according to Thames Water.

Unlike icebergs, which emerge when large sections of ice calve from glaciers near the North and South poles, these greasy, monumental fatberg sewer plugs are formed by people — and only people can prevent fatbergs, Rimmer said in the statement.

“Everyone has a role to play. Yes, a lot of the fat comes from food outlets, but the wipes and sanitary items are far more likely to be from domestic properties. The sewers are not an abyss for household rubbish,” Rimmer said.

Original article on Live Science.

Alleged Massacre of Uncontacted Tribe Members Spurs Probe in Brazil

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Alleged Massacre of Uncontacted Tribe Members Spurs Probe in Brazil

Alleged Massacre of Uncontacted Tribe Members Spurs Probe in Brazil
Uncontacted Indians in the Brazilian Amazon, filmed from the air in 2010.

Credit: Survival International

Brazilian authorities are investigating reports that gold miners killed about 10 members of an uncontacted tribe in the Amazon rainforest.

The alleged killing took place last month along the Jandiatuba River, in a remote part of the Amazon near Brazil’s border with Peru, according to FUNAI, Brazil’s indigenous affairs department.

The probe began after two illegal gold miners, known as “garimpeiros,” were overheard talking about the attack in São Paulo de Olivença, a town in the state of Amazonas. [Gallery: Images of Uncontacted Tribes]

The miners allegedly bragged about the killings in a bar, showing off a carved paddle taken from the tribe as a trophy, The New York Times reported.

The miners were arrested but so far no physical evidence has been found to prove the massacre, according to a statement from FUNAI.

The indigenous rights group Survival International warned that such an attack could mean that a large percentage of the tribe has been wiped out.

Stephen Corry, director of Survival International, said in a statement that the Brazilian administration under President Michel Temer would “bear a heavy responsibility for this genocidal attack” if the reports are confirmed.

These burnt communal houses of uncontacted Indians were seen in December 2016 and could be signs of another massacre in the so-called Uncontacted Frontier.

These burnt communal houses of uncontacted Indians were seen in December 2016 and could be signs of another massacre in the so-called Uncontacted Frontier.

Credit: Survival International

The Guardian reported in July that FUNAI’s budget under the current administration was nearly halved this year, forcing the agency to close dozens of its regional offices and three bases that are involved in protecting isolated tribes. One FUNAI official told The Guardian that land grabbers, loggers and miners were taking advantage of the situation to encroach on indigenous territories.

“All these tribes should have had their lands properly recognized and protected years ago,” Corry said. “The government’s open support for those who want to open up indigenous territories is utterly shameful, and is setting indigenous rights in Brazil back decades.”

In recent years, groups like Survival International have raised the alarm about an increase in sightings of uncontacted tribes in Brazil, warning that encounters with loggers, miners, drug smugglers and tourists could be deadly for tribe members, not only due to violence but also disease.

Original article on Live Science

3 People Die After Falling into Volcanic Crater

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3 People Die After Falling into Volcanic Crater

3 People Die After Falling into Volcanic Crater
Solfatara Crater, near Naples, Italy, is a dormant volcano that last erupted in 1198.

Credit: Dmytry Sukrov/Shutterstock.com

Three members of a family have died after falling into a volcanic crater in Italy, according to news reports.

The family of four from northeastern Italy was on vacation in Pozzuoli, viewing the sulfurous Solfatara crater. Their 11-year-old son ran through a safety barrier and went onto an unstable portion of the crater that is made of crumbling quicksand.

The boy’s mother and father rushed to save him and caused the crater to collapse, forming a small hole. All three dropped into the hole, fell unconscious and died, likely by inhaling the noxious fumes, the BBC reported. The couple’s other son, who is 7 years old, stayed put and survived. Rescue workers did manage to retrieve the bodies and reported that the pit was filled with boiling mud.

The Solfatara crater is one of many now-dormant volcanoes in a field of volcanic activity west of Naples. It formed about 4,000 years ago but last erupted in 1198, the BBC reported. Despite being dormant, Solfatara still emits sulfur and steam, and is a popular tourist attraction.

Originally published on Live Science.

Top 10 Most Unbelievable Child Survival Stories

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Top 10 Most Unbelievable Child Survival Stories



Children have amazingly resilient bodies. They can bend and shift in ways many adults can’t. They seem to endure countless bumps and bruises without any permanent damage and even manage to look cute throughout all their crazy charades. However, even children have their limits. There are all too many stories of babies’ lives coming to unfortunate ends in unforeseen circumstances. Even so, some have escaped the chains of almost certain death in unimaginable ways. Here are ten of the most unbelievable child survival stories.

10Freezing Temperatures

On a subzero night in Alberta, Canada, in 2001, 13-month-old Erika got out of the bed she was sharing with her mother, opened an unlocked back door, and wandered out into the cold, snowy night. At some point along the way, she fell into the snow and lay there for an unspecified amount of time. Erika’s mom didn’t realize her daughter was gone until 3:00 AM, which is when she plummeted into a mother’s worst nightmare. Amazingly, she quickly spotted the toddler lying facedown in the snow.

When the paramedics arrived, they immediately began reviving Erika’s cold, blue body. Problems arose when her limbs were so frozen that a needle could hardly penetrate the skin, and her mouth was so full of ice that breathing tube insertion was nearly impossible. Luckily, the rescuers’ persistence led to their overcoming these trials with an IV in the leg and final success with the tube.

Once in the hospital, Erika was covered with a “Bair hugger” blanket, which heated her body from the outside. Astonishingly, her heart, which had been stopped for two hours, began beating once again. Erika beat all odds and survived one of the deadliest conditions.

9Plummeting Fall

This story is no less harrowing. In a Bronx apartment in 2017, two-year-old Audrianna had become used to sitting on the windowsill, playing her on her tablet. The window was, of course, always locked. One day, circumstances changed when her 17-year-old cousin Isabella came to visit.

While the two girls were playing in the room, Isabella opened the window to amplify the pattering sound of rain outside. Then, she briefly left the room to grab a slice of pizza from the kitchen, only to hear a loud “bang” and a following scream from Audrianna, who had just fallen out the window to an awning five stories below. The awning provided the perfect cushioned landing, and the toddler escaped the fall just fine.

If the awning hadn’t been there, the toddler’s crash would have been almost certainly deadly. The little one was rescued by a neighbor, who pulled her inside through a second-story window. Audrianna emerged from the scene with just a simple bruise on her arm and a smile on her face.] How’s that for an impromptu skydiving experience?

8Horrendous Car Crash

Photo credit: CBS Evening News

Another mind-boggling modern miracle occurred in Texarkana, Arkansas, in 2016, when a car was sideswiped by a semitruck that was trying to change lanes. What had originally been a car with five healthy people quickly turned into a flipped car with four injured adults and a missing eight-month-old. When it was discovered that the baby was ejected from the car, rescuers began hopelessly searching for the child’s body.

Soon, they heard a small noise coming from a patch of hay in the median. Unbelievably, the baby was sitting there in a storm drain, happily reaching up to the rescuers for them to pick her up. Even though the baby had flown 7.3 meters (24 ft) from the car due to not being restrained properly in a car seat, she was found with only a minor injury. She left the scene nearly unscathed and would live to see another day.

7Cokeville Bombing

Rarely has there ever been a story more riveting than the Cokeville, Wyoming, elementary school bombing in 1986. When David, Doris, and Princess Young entered the school on May 16, there was one goal in mind: to carry out David’s dark plan called “the Biggie.” This plan included holding all 100+ children in the elementary school hostage for $2 million each, detonating a bomb that was attached to David, and transporting all the children and money to his new world, where he would be God.

Upon arriving at the school, Princess rebelled, ran to pick up two other hostages who were being held in a van, and brought them to the sheriff’s office to alert authorities to her father’s plan. Meanwhile, Doris and David rounded up all the children and teachers into a small room for “an assembly,” which turned out to be a hostage situation. Everyone sat in the small room, surrounded by weapons, while the teachers tried to keep the students calm throughout the ordeal.

Soon, David transferred the bomb from his body to his wife’s, allowing him to go use the restroom. While he was gone, Doris accidentally detonated the bomb, engulfing her body in flames and burning many children. David came back and shot his wife while everyone else escaped. David also shot a teacher, who was escaping out the window, in the back. After that, David went to the bathroom and killed himself. The amazing part of this story? While 76 people, including the shot teacher, were injured from the explosion, not a single person died other than David and Doris.

6Alligator Attack

In 2017, during what seemed like a normal day, a Florida ten-year-old sat on the shore of a lake in Orange County. However, Juliana’s relaxing excursion quickly came to a halt when an 2.7-meter (8.8 ft) alligator chomped into her knee and calf. At first, the girl punched the predator in the face, but her attempt to loosen its grip was no use. Then, she remembered a lifesaving fact she learned in Gatorland, an alligator amusement park. Jamming her fingers into the animal’s nose, the girl waited for it to lose its breath and then pried its mouth open.

After the gator let her loose, the girl jumped up screaming and ran away. Her family took her to the hospital, where she received several stitches for her deep puncture wounds. Other than that, she was okay. Authorities reacted to the attack, caught the alligator, and closed the lake for public swimming for a period of time in order to prevent similar accidents. Luckily, Juliana’s calm wisdom came to her rescue, and nobody else was injured that day.

5Suicide Attempt

Photo credit: Google

It’s common for people to commit suicide by jumping off towering bridges, but it’s far less common for them to try to include their children in their gruesome deaths. When the Spicken family experienced just that, the outcome was nothing less than a miracle. In 2016, after getting into a heated family argument, John Spicken picked up his two toddler boys and drove away from the home. After following Spicken’s phone GPS signal, police found his empty car near a popular suicide bridge in New Jersey. At this point, the authorities knew something had gone terribly wrong.

In his family suicide attempt, John jumped off the 30-meter (100 ft) bridge—his three-year-old and one-year-old sons in tow. The three bodies landed in the trees below, missing the river underneath the bridge. Amazingly, the brush cushioned both the boys’ falls, and they each emerged alert and alive. While the father died upon impact, the young boys conquered the horrific fall, each suffering just mild concussions.

4Trash Chute Baby

After a young 12-year-old teen gave birth in her Bronx apartment in 1991, she immediately rid herself of her newborn child. Instead of bringing him to a safe drop-off, the mother threw the baby down the trash chute. The fragile infant fell four stories and landed amid the rubbish below. Around 9:45 AM, two and a half hours after the fall, the maintenance men were about to turn on the compactor when they heard a noise coming from the dumpster. Instead of turning on the compactor, which would have instantly smashed and killed the child, the two men decided to call the police.

When a patrol sergeant came to check out the scene, he crawled into the small opening of the trash compactor, where he found the feeble baby alive under a pile of newspapers. The baby was rushed to the hospital and treated for hypothermia. He was soon in stable condition. The infant had defied all odds by avoiding injury in his long fall and escaping the crushing blows of the trash compactor.

3Tornado Terror

Photo credit: XDragon

A thundering tornado stormed through Castalian Springs, Tennessee, in 2008, leaving behind a jaw-dropping pile of flattened buildings, raging fires, unending debris, and dead bodes. As rescuers scoured the area, their countenances faded as they found three corpses, all of which had been flung hundreds of feet from their homes and had become entangled in tree branches. At 1:30 AM, three and a half hours after the search for survivors had begun, one of the rescuers found a doll lying facedown in the mud. Upon closer inspection, the doll appeared to be alive and was, in fact, an 11-month-old baby.

Baby Kyson was picked up by the powerful tornado and flung hundreds of yards away from his flattened duplex, along with his 23-year-old mother, who did not survive the impact. After his silent body was picked up, the frightened Kyson was wrapped up in a coat and sat shivering, a blank stare across his face. Finally, the boy started crying, a huge relief to the rescue team. Upon closer examination, Kyson appeared healthy and basically unscathed. He was taken in by the loving arms of his grandparents, lucky to have survived an unbelievably destructive storm.

2Lost At Sea

In 1961, the Duperrault family of five took an idyllic Bahamas cruise, which quickly turned into a nightmare. In the middle of the cruise, the captain decided to carry out a sinister plan and kill his wife. His wife, not willing to go down so easily, put up a screaming fight, attracting the attention of the passengers aboard. To cover up his tracks, Captain Harvey not only killed his wife but also murdered everyone else on the ship. Everyone, that is, except for Tere Duperrault Fassbender, the 11-year-old middle child of the Duperrault family.

While the killing spree was commencing, Tere was safely in her cabin belowdecks. When she heard the screams, she came out to find the bloody bodies of her mother and brother. The ship was quickly taking on water from the aftermath of the mayhem, so instead of immediately killing her, the captain gave Tere a line to the dinghy below. He told her he would be right back and was just going to grab something before they escaped.

Tere did not fall for his lies, and instead of surrendering to her own murder, she let go of the line. Harvey never found her and returned to land, telling a tale of a sunken ship. He almost got away with murder. However, he was unaware that Fassenbender had actually survived and was fighting for her life at sea. She loved the outdoors, so despite enduring blistering heat in the day and hypothermia at night, she knew she would survive. She had no food or water to nourish her body, but her fighter spirit kept her alive. Four days into being stranded at sea, Fassenbender was rescued and lived, providing a witness to the horrendous cruise murder scene.

1Wheel Well Survival

Photo credit: AP

In 2014, in an almost unimaginable feat, a 16-year-old boy survived something almost no one else could on a standard flight to Hawaii. Instead of buying a coach ticket from San Jose to Kahului, the boy decided to hop the fence surrounding the airport and run to the wheel well of the airplane. While security cameras caught footage of his antics, nobody actually saw him do it in person. After climbing in the wheel well, he endured the five-hour flight to paradise.

Somehow, he managed to make it to Hawaii alive, overcoming subzero temperatures at oxygen-depleted heights. He reportedly became unconscious during takeoff, only to wake up an hour after the plane had landed. He completely astonished the ground crew when he emerged and was taken into the custody of welfare services.

In most cases, when a person is trapped in freezing temperatures with little oxygen, they pass away within just a few minutes. This boy must have fallen into a hibernative state, cooling his body and preserving his central nervous system. Even still, with temperatures reaching –59 to –62 degrees Celsius (–75 to –80 °F), his survival in a cramped wheel well is remarkable. He also managed to not be crushed by the landing gear folding back into the plane or fall out of the wheel well—both of which were real possibilities in this boy’s situation. Amazingly, his body fell unconscious in just the right position to hold him safely in the landing gear of the plane. After he survived the amazing feat, the boy avoided federal charges and went on to be one of the few survivors to ever overcome a wheel well flight.

How Two Bodies Stayed Mummified for 75 Years in a Swiss Glacier

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How Two Bodies Stayed Mummified for 75 Years in a Swiss Glacier

The mountain range bordering the Jungfrau Glacier in Switzerland, as viewed from the Jungfraujoch.

Credit: Terry Chambers/Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty

Last week, during a routine inspection tour, a ski-lift technician for the Swiss adventure resort Glacier 3000 found what he thought was a collection of black rocks near the Tsanfleuron glacier in the western Bernese Alps, reported The New York Times. Upon close inspection, though, he discovered that the rocks were, in fact, mummified bodies.

DNA testing has now confirmed that the bodies are those of Marcelin and Francine Dumoulin, spouses that had been lost ever since they left home to feed their cattle the morning of Aug. 15, 1942. So how did the bodies become preserved in the glacier?

Whether the Dumoulins fell into a crevasse remains a mystery, but it may be that a snowstorm covered them, making it impossible to find the couple by sight. But regardless of what happened, the water inside their bodies eventually froze. Still, the ice crystals in their tissues likely didn’t stay put, said Dan Fisher, a professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Michigan, who was not involved in identifying the remains. [25 Grisly Archaeological Discoveries]

“The tissue starts out with a high water content, but that water would freeze, and in many cases,actually under those frozen conditions, when surrounded with [air] with low water-vapor content, the ice crystals in the tissue can sublimate,” Fisher told Live Science. Sublimation is the process by which solid ice transitions directly into water vapor without ever becoming liquid. In other words, the tissue dried out, Fisher said.

As such, it was both the cold and the dry conditions that inhibited the work of bacteria and fungi, as well as the chemical processes that would normally break down human tissue, leaving the bodies well-preserved.

Additionally, the bodies remained relatively intact likely because the Tsanfleuron glacier may be relatively stable, even though glaciers, rivers of slow-flowing ice, are in constant motion. They advance when more ice and snow are added than lost, and retreat when more ice and snow is lost, according to Martin Callanan, an associate professor of archaeology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, who was not involved in identifying the remains.

This retreat makes it possible to glimpse even further back into the past. In 2003, less than 20 miles (32 kilometers) away from Tsanfleuron, at the Schnidejoch glacier, coins, leather, a piece of a wooden bowl and a bow and arrows were among items discovered. Those objects date from Medieval times, all the way back to nearly 4500 B.C., during the Neolithic age.

“There is a definite increase in the number of objects that we’re finding and in the number of different regions that are reporting finds,” said Callanan, mentioning that he couldn’t speak to whether this was true specifically for bodies as well.

Photo published for Swiss police confirm identity of couple found on glacier

Callanan attributed this increase in discoveries, in part, to global warming. Global temperatures in 2014, 2015, and 2016 each broke the record for the hottest year on the planet since recordkeeping began in 1880, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration told Live Science. This warming is causing glaciers worldwide to shrink, a 2016 study in Nature Geoscience confirms with 99 percent certainty.

The recent discovery and identification of the Dumoulins is a great relief to the couple’s daughter Marceline Udry-Dumoulin. Udry-Dumoulin, one of seven children, was only 4 when her parents went missing. After their disappearance, local rescue teams searched crevasses for more than two months but found nothing.

“I climbed the glacier three times afterwards, always looking for them,” Udry-Dumoulin told the Swiss newspaper Le Matin. “I kept wondering if they had suffered and what had become of them. Now I have the pleasure of having answers to these questions.”

Original article on Live Science.