In 1985 Japan’s vending machine business was booming. Over five million of the units were jammed into the nation’s streets and businesses. The sheer amount of variety offered within them included the usual (soda, juice, candy), the essentials (milk, rice, eggs) and even things for adults (alcohol and porn).
Due to the popularity and convenience of these machines, they became a target for a twisted mind to utilize to betray the public’s trust. Reports started to come in to police that people were getting ill and even dying after drinking refreshments found near the vending machines or sometimes even in the slots where the product falls into. Who ever left them behind seemed to have done so in hopes that the next person to use the machine would think they received a free drink by accident.
The affected products were tested and they showed that someone had intentionally injected paraquat into the bottles. Paraquat is a herbicide that is used by American drug enforcers as a means to kill marijuana plants. One bottle was proved to have been tainted with diquat, another herbicide. The bottles were not left in any sort of discernible pattern, and the investigators struggled to find any leads.
The rash of poisonings began in late April, with a single victim. Things then escalated in the Fall as eleven more people fell victim to the poisoned drinks from September 11th until November 17th. The crimes dried up once vending machine owners started to post warning signs for the public to avoid any drinks that did not come directly from the machine itself.
The culprit behind the poisonings was never identified. The police believe the mystery criminal(s) inspired several copycat crimes as lime sulfur was discovered in several drinks in Tokyo soon after the mass outbreak. Another unknown, would-be contaminator left toxin infused milk bottles at several different schools soon after the initial hysteria died down.
Parents of the Year
One of the more disturbing court cases that occurred this past summer was that of Heather Leigh Bowe, 25, a resident of Canton, Ohio. Bowe openly requested for her boyfriend, James Richardson, that he have sex with not only her eight-year-old daughter, but also the family dog. Bowe helped bring both the dog and her child into the bedroom, and then anxiously watched as Richardson had sexual intercourse with each. Bowe then crawled into bed and allowed Richardson to watch as she raped her daughter and then had sexual contact with the dog.
Thankfully, social workers ended up visited the home soon after the incident occurred. They had come originally due to reports that the child was being neglected and was showing signs of malnutrition. The child alerted the social workers not only about the sexual event she was forced into, but also to the fact that the adults were using drugs.
The police arrested both Bowe and Richardson on charges of rape, complicity to rape and child endangerment. The charges could have netted the pair up to a thirty-year prison sentence. The local prosecutors felt they had a rock solid case, and wanted to spare the child any further trauma that testifying might bring about. This led to a plea deal being worked on and ultimately agreed to by Richardson and Bowe. Each were sentenced to thirteen years in prison for their crime.
The Woeful Life of Bengal’s Deformed Boy
A boy was born in Bengal in 1783 with a genetic deformity that saw a parasitic twin’s head attached to his own. His mother was horrified by his appearance and threw her newborn into a fire. The family then changed their mind, saved their baby and decided to use his unfortunate appearance in order to make money off him as a freak. His heads each had independent control of it’s own face, but only the lower face had the ability to speak. The boy spent the next four years being shown off to the upper crust of society for a fee. This practice ended abruptly when the youngster was bitten by a cobra and died.
The British medical world requested the boy’s body for an autopsy in order to study the deformities up close. The family denied the plea and instead gave their child a proper burial. This move did not stop the curiosity seekers however. An agent for the East India Company ended up illegally digging up the child, then cut the body apart while documenting his findings. He finished by beheading the corpse and giving the skull to a fellow researcher, who then took it to Europe. Renowned surgeon and scientist John Hunter ended up with possession of the cranium until it was passed on to the Hunterian Museum, which was well known for it’s medical oddities and freaky exhibits.
Last spring, I covered the case of Chelsea Bruck, a young woman who went missing under questionable circumstances while attending a Halloween party in 2014. Bruck was ultimately found to be murdered. Thankfully, I can report that the man responsible for the crime is now sitting behind bars. 27-year-old Daniel Clay has been charged with 2nd-degree murder and concealing a body. Clay was identified after the police took over 800 interviews from people who were at the party, among others related to the case. Clay, who has a long criminal record, admitted to the police and his girlfriend about how his attempt to sexually assault Bruck led to him accidentally murdering her. His first pretrial hearing was held on October 5th.
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